Star Tracks: Monday, May 16, 2016 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Chris Brown Releases New Song 'What Would You Do' Less Than 24 Hours After Deadly Weapon Arrest
- Read the Cover Story: Rob Kardashian & Blac Chyna: How I Finally Found Happiness
- Britney Spears Says She's Had Her Fair Share of Awkward Dates: 'Being Famous Doesn't Make You Any Different'
- 5 Killed as 2 Small Planes Collide Midair in Alaska: Report
- Architect and Contractor in Christmas Day House Fire That Killed 5 Agree to Pay $1.2 Million
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- May 18, 1987
- Vol. 27
- No. 20
If You're 20 Fathoms Down and Out of Oxygen, the Answer Is Larry Williamson's Spare Air
That happened to Williamson, now 43, while he was scuba diving 12 years ago for lobsters off California's Santa Catalina Island. A hundred and forty feet below the surface he suddenly realized he was out of air (the reserve valve on his air tank had been turned on accidentally, emptying it). Through his panic he remembers thinking, "Why doesn't someone make one breath of air you could stick in your pocket?" Just before he blacked out, he pulled the CO2 cartridge that inflated his life vest, which brought him to the surface with a headache, but alive.
Williamson worked out the details of his extra-breath invention back in the two-man machine shop he ran in Huntington Beach, Calif. Four years ago, Marine Corps pilots at nearby Tustin air base became interested in it as an emergency aid for helicopter crews who ditched their craft at sea, and the Navy brass began testing it head-to-head against a similar Coast Guard product (an inflated vest from which air can be sucked through a tube). Late in 1986, Spare Air (which the military calls HEED II, for Helicopter Emergency Egress Device, Type Two) was approved, and Williamson got an initial order for 8,200 tanks, at $195 per canister. The prospect of a $1 million gross delights him, but Williamson says his best reward still comes from fellow scuba divers when they stop by to say, "You know, this is the greatest thing in the world. It saved my life."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!