The world would be nowhere without the ingenuity, persistence, and courage of inventors. But like many occupations that require a hefty amount of courage (and a healthy amount of ego), being an inventor can carry some huge risks, including some gnarly freak accidents. Check out the following inventors who were tragically killed by their own creations…
Otto Lilienthal (AKA”The Glider King”) was a German inventor and aviation pioneer known for making the first successful gliding flights. He’d made a handful of successful flights with his gliders, reaching heights of up to 820 feet. But on his last flight, his glider stalled and fell from a height of about 50 feet, fracturing his neck, an injury he would die from about 36 hours later.
Though Jim Heselden made hundreds of millions as a British inventor and businessman, he didn’t invent the Segway himself. He actually bought it from U.S. inventor Dean Kamen in December 2009. Less than a year later, Heselden died after riding a rugged country version of the Segway and accidentally driving it off a cliff and into a river near his Yorkshire estate. He was one of the most philanthropic millionaires in England, and was 62 years young when he died.
Marie Cure became famous for her research on radioactivity and was the first woman to win not one, but two Nobel prize awards. But her years of radiation research eventually lead to her death, as she died in 1934 of aplastic anemia, caused by radiation exposure.
Michael Dacre was a British test pilot and aviation pioneer who invented an aircraft he dubbed “the flying taxi”, which he designed to provide fast and affordable travel between regional cities (or as we would probably call it today, AirUber). Dacre was testing one of the planes 150 miles north of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur when it malfunctioned and fell to the ground, causing a huge explosion and the inventor’s death.
Franz Reichelt was a French tailor, inventor, and parachuting pioneer who was working on a suit for aviators that could convert into a parachute and allow them to survive a plane crash. He initially dropped dummies from the fifth floor of his apartment building to test the suits, and apparently those tests were successful enough for him to think it was a good idea to wear the suit himself and jump off the Eiffel Tower. His friends begged him not to do it, but Reichelt did it, his parachute folding around him almost immediately. He plummeted for a few seconds before hitting the ground 187 feet below, leaving a crater in the floor of the Tower that was 5.9 inches deep. A 1912 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine reported that “his body was a shapeless mass when the police picked it up”. An autopsy later determined that he died of a heart attack during his fall, so at least he was dead before impact?
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