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7 inventors killed by their inventions

By: Shea Gunther on Jan. 18, 2012, 8:59 a.m.
Advanced Vehicle Engineers Mizar flying car at an airfield in Oxnard, California, in 1973.

Photo: Doug Duncan/Wikimedia commons

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Henry Smolinski

Henry Smolinski was a Northrop-trained engineer who left his job to start Advanced Vehicle Engineers, a company focused on bringing a flying car to market. In 1973, the company built its first two prototypes made by fusing the rear end of a Cessna Skymaster airplane with a Ford Pinto. The tail section was designed to be attached and detached from the car.

Smolinski was set to begin production for the retail market the next year, but on Sept. 11, 1973, he went on a test flight with pilot Harold Blake and was killed, along with Blake, when a wing strut detached from the car. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that bad welds were responsible for the crash. (And it did involve a Pinto.)