Monday, August 31, 2009

Forrest Bird!

I hardly ever watch TV and occasionally I miss some great stuff (though usually not). Fortunately in one special case just now, my mother thought to give me a call to tell me about a great story she saw on 60 Minutes yesterday. It's about an amazing inventor and aviator named Forrest Bird. Bird's most successful invention was the modern respirator. It is still in widespread use and has saved many, many lives (including an infant respirator called the BABYbird). At 86 years old, Bird still works a 12 hour day and spends a lot of time flying his airplanes (he has 21 including three helicopters). He's been flying for 75 years and can still pass an FAA medical - wow. He flies solo in his Piper Cub and other fixed wing aircraft (in one scene he was flying right seat in a helicopter, so I suppose there was another pilot in the left seat - but he's flying helicopters at 86!).

Thanks to the internet I was able to watch the story just now (at the cost of ignoring one Viagra commercial). It's really inspiring to see this guy's zest for life.

Note: The video now embedded here is the full "60 Minutes" episode from 8/30/09 (the individual Birdman segment is no longer available on the CBS site). The Forrest Bird segment starts at about 27 minutes in the 42 minute video. You can also watch the video of this segment on the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center web site here (no Viagra or other commercials!). The museum is located near Dr. Bird's home, near Sandpoint, Idaho.

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