Inventors often have a special kind of madness. It seems necessary to have a couple of screws looses to be able to think far enough outside of the box to invent something new and useful. Those loose screws may help where innovation is concerned, but where safety is concerned they seem to be a massive and sometimes permanent hindrance.
Throughout the ages bright sparks with creative minds have ended up falling victim to their labours of love. Here’s a shortlist of some such characters that have died at the hands of their art…
Franz Reichelt (died 1912)
Reichelt was an Austrian-born, French tailor. He became obsessed with making a coat for aviators which doubled up as a parachute. He tried numerous designs on dummies which he lobbed out of 5th floor windows but yearned for a proper experiment with a real life human.
Many of Reichelt’s later experiments had failed, he thought that if he could throw a dummy off a structure higher than five stories they would be much more successful. In 1912 he got permission from authorities to throw a dummy from the Eiffel tower, a suitably high platform.
It was only on the actual day of the experiment that he finally made it clear to authorities that he himself would replace the dummy. Despite friends and onlookers trying to dissuade him from his perilous experiment Reichelt was convinced he could make it and jumped.
The drop was around 57 metres, during his few seconds of free fall the parachute wrapped uselessly around Reichelt’s body. At the very last-minute the chute appeared to open but it was too late by far. He died on impact in front of a crowd of disturbed onlookers and journalists.