U.S. Patent #3,538,508, also known to those who follow most things blindly as the Pillow Crash Helmet, is a pillow that folds in half in the event of a crash and is placed over the passenger's head, and strapped under the chin. Apart from blocking the view of the unfolding carnage, it’s difficult to imagine exactly what the inventor thought this pillow/helmet would accomplish. The idea is reminiscent of those 1950s school drills instructing children to “duck and cover their heads” to protect them from nuclear attack. The pillow/helmet appears to be just as helpful in its own particular way.
How does it work, you may ask? Well, good question. A pillow body is enclosed in a ticking, and a pair of tie strings are attached at one end the ticking at opposite ends of the pillow. The pillow body is folded in half and the side edges of the ticking are sewn together so as to form a pouch that is open on only one side. A pillowcase with a zipper closure surrounds the pouch.
The Pillow Crash Helmet is a well-intentioned idea for a dual/purpose invention that doesn’t quite make it off the ground (even thought the airplane about to crash obviously did).
Consider how some other inventors/writers have handled the idea of different types of helmets and pillows. Read John Barker’s funny piece, “Ready for a Simulated Head Wound?” and Amused and Bemused’s witty piece, “Ten Funniest Pillows”.