Inventors Who Got Killed By Their Own Creations

The level which the world has reached today is because of the continuous inventions and contributions made by many people. The inventors first come up with the idea that could solve a problem, especially in a way that no one else thought of, then design it and bring the idea to the reality.


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But there is also the stage where a device is ‘tested,’ before introducing it to everyone. And the person who dummied to check its success was the inventor himself many times. But unfortunately, a few got killed by their inventions, and here is a list of few.

1. Henry Smolinski 

Henry Smolinski

Henry Smolinski was a Northrop-trained engineer. He left his job because he wanted to start Advanced Vehicle Engineers, a company which focused on bringing a flying car to market.

In 1973, the first two prototypes of the company were built. Later that year on Sept. 11, Smolinski went on a test flight with pilot Harold Blake. But unfortunately, they both were killed in a crash, when a wing strut got detached from the car. The National Transportation Safety Board said that it was the bad welds that led to the accident.

2. Franz Reichelt 

Franz Reichelt

Franz Reichelt, born in Austria, was a tailor by profession. The inventor used to spend his free time working on a flying parachute suit which was to be worn by the airplane pilots.

When Reichelt was working on this design, airplanes were a new invention at that time and the mechanics of how a pilot will escape from a plane in an emergency was still in process. Reichelt did first tests of his design on the dummies which were successful, and that encouraged him to try it himself. For which he jumped off the lower level of the Eiffel Tower, which was about 187-feet. However, his jump onto the frozen ground led to his death. 

3. Horace Lawson Hunley 

Horace Lawson Hunley

Hunley was a marine engineer and a lawyer and served in the Louisiana state legislature as well. He had a thing for submarines and had helped to build around three of them, all of which were of different models. His first submarine, built in New Orleans in 1862, eventually sunk. His second one sunk in Mobile Bay in Alabama.

Hunley himself funded his third submarine. On Oct. 15, 1863, he left on the submarine along with the seven crew members but the sub sank in the Charleston, S.C. However, a few of the members were lucky enough to survive, but the inventor i.e. Hunley lost his life.

4. Thomas Midgley Jr 

Thomas Midgley Jr

The death of this inventor is a very surprising one.

Midgley was a chemist and was known for his work with “no-knock” or say leaded gasoline and the greenhouse gas Freon. Once in a press conference, he poured leaded gasoline all over his hands to prove that the fuel was safe but subsequently suffered from it. But unlike our assumptions, he didn’t die because of this.

Rather he was killed by one of his other inventions. When he was in bed suffering from polio, he had built a rope and pulley system for himself, but due to his misfortune, he got entangled in the ropes and died due to suffocation on Nov. 2, 1944.

5. Marie Curie 

Marie Curie

Winner of two Nobel prizes, Marie Curie was both chemist and physicist. She was best known for her work on radioactivity; she also discovered the elements radium and polonium.

The person responsible for establishing the theory of radioactivity is Marie, but unfortunately, she unintentionally discovered the fatal effect radioactivity could have on the health of human beings. And she died because of aplastic anemia caused by radiation exposure on July 4, 1934.

6. Perillos of Athens 

Perillos of Athens

Perillos actually deserved to die at the hand of his own inventions.

He was a bronze worker who designed a device to present to the king so that the latter could punish the criminals as cruelly as possible. The device was called the Brazen Bull, where the criminals were locked inside, and a fire was set beneath the statue because of which the metal heated until the victims inside died from severe burns.

The structure of the bull was designed with a system of pipes and tubes, which was to convert the screams of the victims to the sounds similar to the bellowing of an enraged bull. Perillos once said, “The horrendous screams will come to you through the tubes as the tenderest, most melodious, most pathetic of bellowings.”
Well, it is also interesting to know that when Perillos proposed the Brazen Bull to Phalaris, the latter was so disgusted by the brutality of this invention and ordered to put the former inside the bull and get him roasted.

7. Valerian Abakovsky 

Valerian Abakovsky

Abakovsky was a 26-year old Russian inventor, who invented Aerowagon train engine. It had an airplane engine and propeller which was specially designed to carry Soviet officials to and from Moscow. The test run was successful on its outgoing trip but crashed on the returning journey, killing Abakovsky and five others.

8. Wan Hu 

Wan Hu

During the sixteenth-century when the Ming Dynasty prevailed, Wan Hu was a government official. He had dreams to travel to the moon and so he designed a special chair to which 47 rockets were attached. But when the rockets were lit to fire, instead of making Wan Hu fly, the rockets got exploded, killing the official.

9. Abu Nasr Isma’il ibn Hammad al-Jawhari 

Hammad al-Jawhari

Jawhari was well-known for being a lexicographer of a notable Arabic dictionary which contained about 40,000 entries. Another thing that made him more popular was his attempt to fly with wooden wings. He developed a pair for himself and leaped from the roof of a mosque in the town of Nishapur, but unfortunately, he fell down which led to his death.

10. Henry Winstanley 

Henry Winstanley

Apart from being an English engineer and painter, Winstanley had also constructed a lighthouse, for which he is mostly remembered. He was so confident about his construction that he wished to be in the lighthouse during a storm. Subsequently, his wish was fulfilled but the lighthouse collapsed, killing Winstanley and five others, in the year November 1903.

11. Otto Lilienthal Otto Lilienthal

Otto Lilienthal, also regarded as the Glider King, was a German pioneer of aviation. He made several successful gliding flights, reaching a distance of up to 820 feet. During one of his flights his glider stalled, because of which he fell from a height of 50 feet. Subsequently, he fractured his neck, surviving for about 36 hours but he died later.