Random fact: Churchill used in-flight pod to light up, stay alive

When you look at this 1947 photo of an in-flight "life pod" it's hard to believe anyone would willingly travel in it. So why then was Sir Winston Churchill — one of the saviors of the free world at the time — traveling in this formidable looking pod?

By the end of World War II, Churchill at 73, had suffered two heart attacks. He had also been overweight and the poster boy for cigar smoking for years. This did not make him a great candidate for flying the globe crafting world peace, yet that was the task at hand.

So engineers were faced with the problem of Churchill's plane needing to fly at high altitudes for safety and expediency's sake, but the doctors advising he shouldn't go above 8,000 feet. To accomplish this they fitted his special plane with a pressure chamber that kept conditions at the equivalent of 5,000 feet.

What's ironic about this is the fact the pod was created with a special circulation system that allowed Churchill his smokes while en route. Aside from a phone, it looks like everything else was pretty much a secondary consideration with not much room to spare.

The lesson here is that when it comes to in-flight pods, saving your life might be the necessity, but having your creature comforts catered to will always be in style. We'll remember that when it comes time to create our pods for interstellar travel!

LIFE, viaio9

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