Honorary Unsubscribe

Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe Recognizes the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Often Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives.
These are the people you will wish you had known.

Aeronautic physician

Forrest Bird

As a child, Bird was fascinated by airplanes — even before his father introduced him to Orville Wright, the first pilot of a powered airplane. While still in his teens, Bird gained multiple pilot certifications, and in 1941 joined the U.S. Army Air Corps to help train pilots for World War II. Due to his extreme qualifications, Bird was able to fly virtually every aircraft the Army had, eventually including jets and helicopters. With that experience, he realized that pilots, as they flew higher, would need better systems to keep them safe from low oxygen levels. He invented and made them: the first Positive Pressure Inhalation Device came out in 1946. The idea came to him while flying, as he pictured air flowing over his plane’s wing, and air flowing into the lung. “In that lung is rudimentary air foils,” he said years later. “It’s like a million airplane wings all down through the lungs. In and out, all the way through, that facilitate your normal, spontaneous breathing. So it was just applying all this — taking it from aviation.” To truly learn how the body worked, the military sent Bird to medical school to become a doctor. Thus Bird learned that doctors needed positive-pressure ventilation devices too, and by 1950 he had produced a medical respirator. The medical “Mark 7” Bird Respirator — a small transparent green box introduced in 1955 — is still used today. A smaller unit (the “Baby Bird”) followed in 1970, and dramatically lowered mortality in premature infants, whose lungs are often not fully developed. Well into his 80s, Bird still worked 12-hour days — and still flew his airplane. Well, airplanes: he had 21, including three helicopters, which he lent out to fight forest fires. The news show 60 Minutes profiled him in 2007; in 2008, President George W. Bush awarded Bird the Presidential Citizens Medal; in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Dr. Bird died August 2. He was 94.

From This is True for 2 August 2015


Honorary Unsubscribe Books

HU BooksThe Early Writeups from This is True's popular Honorary Unsubscribe feature are now available for your Kindle (or Kindle software for your smartphone, tablet, or computer) as low-cost ebooks.

See details on Volume 1 (covering 1998 through 2000), Volume 2 (2001 through 2003), Volume 3 (2004 through 2006), and Volume 4 (2007 through 2009).

The honorees truly are the people you wish you had known.

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