Indian inventor dies in homemade helicopter accident

Self-taught engineer killed testing helicopter made from scrap metal

Sheikh Ismail's homemade helicopter after the accident. Photo: Indian Police
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An Indian inventor who dropped out of school to build his own helicopter from scratch was killed while testing his homemade flying machine.

Shaikh Ismail, 29, a welder turned inventor from Fulsawangi village in the Yavatmal district of the western state of Maharashtra, was famous in his village for his inventions and scientific aspirations.

The inventor taught himself the basics of aeronautical engineering using YouTube and over two years built a single-seater helicopter using a car engine and scrap metal.

A video of the accident showed Ismail’s miniature white helicopter preparing to take off in the middle of a field when the rear rotor blade broke off, hitting the inventor.

Police said Ismail died after the rotor blade caused a deep gash on his neck. An investigation into the incident has been opened.

“He was rushed to the nearby hospital but had succumbed to his injuries. His friends said that the helicopter had lifted two or three feet above the ground but soon the blade tore off and struck him,” Vilas Chauhan, a local police officer, told The National.

“He was known locally for his inventions. His family said he had been working every night for the last two years on his dream helicopter,” Mr Chauhan said.

The officer said the police had taken the helicopter away for further analysis.

Ismail’s friends told local media that he wanted to build affordable helicopters and use them for rescue operations during natural disasters.

Ismael planned to exhibit his helicopter to the villagers on Independence Day, August 15.

“He used to test the functions of the chopper very often. Earlier, he had been successful in lifting the helicopter five feet above the ground. It was his final trial on Tuesday,” Mohsin, a friend of Ismail, told a regional news channel. “We are shocked,” the friend said.

Updated: November 01, 2021, 10:24 AM