His discomfort led to the modern hospital bed
Under an Army Air Forces contract, Hughes Aircraft developed a high speed, high altitude, reconnaissance airplane designated as the XF-11. The aircraft was required to obtain detailed observations of enemy territory and defenses, in particular, the home islands of Japan. This entailed an additional requirement of long-range capability. Hughes was personally involved in the design and development of the prototypes which were plagued with excessive costs, delays due to untested and unproven innovations, and managerial problems.
The original order of 100 aircraft was canceled in the spring of 1945, as it became apparent that Naval aircraft carriers could approach Japan with near impunity. Hughes was permitted to complete two of the prototypes for research and testing purposes.
In early July 1946, Hughes flew the XF-11 prototype for the first time. Ignoring the agreed-upon flight testing program, which was to end the flight once the recording cameras reached the end of their film rolls, Hughes remained airborne. When a serious problem developed in the airplane and Hughes was unable to return to the field, he attempted to land on the nearby Los Angeles Country Club Golf Course.
He came up short, crashing into three nearby houses, suffering numerous broken bones and severe burns, as well as causing his heart to move to the right side of his chest. When he awoke in the hospital he found that his physical pain was substantial, and the bed in which he lay was in no small manner adding to his discomfort.
Disregarding the effects of his pain and medications, Hughes summoned engineers and technicians to his bedside. He dictated plans for a mechanism of cables and pulleys connected to electric motors which would allow him to adjust the angle at which he lay by pushing buttons. He had the bed sectioned into six zones, each operated independently. He also requested that the bed be provided with running water, hot and cold, available at all times to the occupant.
By the time the engineers were able to comply with his requests, he had recovered to the point that he was no longer bedridden, and thus was unable to personally attest to their effectiveness. His engineers continued in the development of what became the basis for the modern hospital bed. Hughes, by the way, attributed his recovery to neither his bed nor his doctors, but rather to the health benefits of regular consumption of freshly squeezed orange juice.