The news that Boeing engineers and designers have come up with an airplane lavatory that cleans itself with ultra-violet lights in just three seconds would have pleased Frances Gabe, an Oregon inventor who, back in the 1980s, patented dozens of ideas related to her own scheme for a self-cleaning house.
Gabe’s house did clean itself – sort of. When I visited her back in the mid-1980s for a radio interview, few self-cleaning gadgets were actually operating. And she was determined to make the whole thing operate as a self-cleaning unit before taking even one idea to market. But after spending a few hours with her that day, I was confident she’d work out a way to make the whole thing work in perfect harmony.
I imagine her saying something like “been there, done that” when hearing about Boeing’s idea for a self-cleaning lav. But, as someone who’s written stories about studies done to find the germiest places on airplanes, I’m hoping Boeing’s idea becomes standard issue as soon as possible.