10 Inventors who died by their own inventions

May 2, 2014

While many inventors live happy and prosperous lives, perhaps with plenty of money thanks to their inventions, others are not so lucky. In fact, some inventors have been known to have died thanks to their own inventions and here are 10 of them.

1.Franz Reichelt, the tailor who invented the “wingsuit”.

Franz Reichelt decided to make a “wingsuit” which he said would allow him to glide effortlessly, in a similar fashion to parachutes of today, however it wasn’t to be. On 4 February 1912 the French tailor climbed up to the top of the Eiffel Tower in the wingsuit he had made, having previously told the French authorities that he was going to use a dummy to test the suit out. He changed his mind on arriving at the tower and announced that he would be wearing the suit and jumping himself.

Even though people around him tried to persuade him otherwise, he was adamant that he wanted to make the jump saying that he wanted to try it without any trickery, so as to prove the worth of his invention. The wingsuit had a parachute with a surface area of 320 square feet and was 16 feet in height; all he had to do was extend his arms out like wings.

Watched over by 30 journalists, a large crowd and 2 cinematographers he climbed onto the ledge and jumped over. Sadly, the wingsuit just wrapped around his body and he plummeted to the ground 187 feet below where he left a crater that was reported to be 5.9 inches in depth. He suffered devastating injuries, however it was said that the cause of death was a heart attack on the free-fall down.

2.Perillos of Athens and his Brazen Bull

brazenbull[Image Source: Wikimedia]

Perillos worked as a bronze worker and he made what was known as the “Brazen Bull”. This was a device with the purpose of executing criminals in a slow and agonising death. The Brazen Bull was hollow and prisoners were put into it and then roasted via a fire that was underneath the stomach of the bull. Perillos was making a pitch of his invention to the tyrant lord of Acragas in Sicily and when he showed the bull off he was asked to get inside it. A fire was then lit underneath the bull. It isn’t made clear as to whether he actually roasted to death inside the bull or whether he was taken out before he died and thrown off a cliff.

3.Stuntman Karel Soucek and his shock absorbent barrel

18osnofcp578vjpg[Image Source: Wikimedia]

Karel Soucek was a stuntman who first went over the Niagara Falls in a shock absorbent barrel that he had custom built in 1984. Strangely he survived this rather silly stunt, but then one year later he thought he would like to test it out being dropped from the Houston Astrodome, 180 feet, into a tank full of water. This time he wasnt so lucky as the capsule hit the rim of the tank of water and he perished a few hours later in hospital due to the injuries he suffered.

4.Horace Lawson Hunley and his submarine

Lawyer Horace Lawson Hunley had a passion for submarines and during the battle of the Civil War he helped to design and build three models. The third submarine was funded by him and on 15 October 1863 he along with 7 crewmembers took the submarine down and it sank in Charleston S.C. The submarine was recovered and was then used again; surprisingly the submarine sank a ship and was the first submarine to actually do so. It’s a pity Hunley didn’t live to see it.

5.William Bullock and his Rotary Printing Press

American inventor William Bullock invented a printing press in 1863 that helped to change the print industry. However on 3 April 1867 he was adjusting the press and he kicked a driving belt on a pulley and got his leg crushed. Within days he developed gangrene and on 12 April he died in hospital during an operation to amputate his leg.

6.Max Valier and his Liquid Fuelled Rocket Car

Max Valier worked with liquid fuelled rockets for rocket powered cars and he had success on 25 January 1930. On 19 April 1930 he made a test drive of a rocket car, which was successful, but one month later 17 May 1930 he was killed when testing an alcohol fuelled rocket car and it exploded.

7.Thomas Midgley and his System of Strings and Pulleys

Thomas Midgley was a mechanical engineer who after illness became disabled. He then invented a system of strings and pulleys so that people could help to lift him from his bed. However on 2 November 1944 he died after being strangled by the system when he became entangled in ropes of the system.

8.Sieur Freminet and his Rebreathing device

Sieur Freminet invented a rebreathing device for scuba diving in 1772 that recycled the air exhaled from inside the barrel. However the invention wasn’t that good as he died from a lack of oxygen inside the invention after just twenty minutes.

9.Henry Smolinski and his Flying Car

Henry Smolinski was a trained engineer who gave up his job to begin Advanced Vehicle Engineers, with the aim of inventing a flying car. In 1973 they built two prototypes when they fused the back end of the Cessna Skymaster airplane to a Ford Pinto, with the tail section being designed to attach and the detach from the car. On 11 Sept 1973 he tested it alongside Harold Blake, the pilot, and both were killed when the wing strut came away from the car.

10.Valerian Abakovsky and his Aerowagon train engine

Russian inventor Valerian Abakovsky invented the Aerowagon, it featured the engine and propeller of an airplane and was made to take Soviet officials backwards and forwards from Moscow. The invention was successful on the outgoing leg when testing it but on the incoming journey it crashed on reaching the station and the inventor died.

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