A 24-year-old man named Sheikh Ismail Sheikh Ibrahim, who aspired to be a successful inventor, died as a result of his injuries. According to an initial report from a local news source, his DIY helicopter suffered a catastrophic system failure in the Fulsawangi village of Mahagaon tehsil, in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra.
There was a video recording of the horrific event, which we won’t embed here for obvious reasons, but for those who want to see what went wrong, follow the link and be warned of gratuitous images of bodily harm.
Ibrahim had dropped out of school in class 8 (eighth grade) and then started working in his older brother Mussavir’s gas welding workshop. It wasn’t long before Ibrahim learned how to make coolers, as well as almirahs and other traditional household objects. Then Ibrahim saw the film “3 Idiots” took a cue from the character “Rancho” and set out to make his village Fulsawangi a household name. Ibrahim decided to build his own helicopter from the ground up, using the skills he learned while working with his brother at the workshop. However, rather than learning the traditional way (in a school or through years of private study from primary sources and engineering manuals), he obtained his information from YouTube videos.
Similarly, we do not recommend building a DIY helicopter from YouTube videos. There are numerous companies selling helicopter kits, as well as legitimate textbooks on helicopter flight dynamics. While it is not impossible to build a helicopter by watching YouTube videos, it is important to understand that the video media economy is primarily dedicated to maximizing views and monetizing videos — and is not intended to be a substitute for a substantial education, whether through private study, military training, or a legitimate university or college course.
Understandably, Ibrahim’s DIY helicopter was a massive undertaking that took him two years to complete, after which he had all of the parts he required to build a DIY helicopter. According to a local report, his friend, Sachin Ubale, said the now-deceased man built a prototype of a new single-seater helicopter out of steel pipes and a Maruti 800 engine. Ubale also stated that Ibrahim planned to show off his DIY helicopter to the public on India’s Independence Day. However, Ibrahim decided to conduct a final test-run of his DIY creation on Tuesday night. And, as his friends gathered to watch him soar into the night sky, Ibrahim fired up the engine.
Tragedy struck seconds later.
The DIY helicopter pilot did not wear a helmet
The tail rotor blades snapped free, with pieces flailing into the main rotor blades, which caused the main rotor blades to snap, sending a piece of metal into the cockpit, where it hit Ibrahim at a fatal velocity, as shown in the video (linked above, we won’t link twice). “Ismail wanted to exhibit the helicopter to the public on Independence Day this year and so he decided to test the flying machine near his workshop,” Ubale told the local news source. “On Tuesday night, he sat in the pilot’s seat and started the engine, while some of his friends looked on in awe. A piece of the broken blade slashed Ismail’s throat, and he collapsed to the ground before anyone could understand what was going on.”
“He used to test the functioning of the chopper very often,” Ubale added. “He had previously succeeded in raising the helicopter 5 feet above the ground. On Tuesday, he faced his final trial.” Unfortunately, Ibrahim did not appear to be wearing a helmet or headphones during this DIY helicopter test run, which are just two of the many, many safety protocols that any pilot must follow to avoid taking a serious risk on any prototype vehicle. But, even if he had been wearing a helmet, he would not have survived because the blade struck his throat rather than his head. Ibrahim bled profusely as his body slumped out of the cockpit following the injury. His friends rushed him to the hospital, but he was already dead. We don’t know whether the incident was caused by an engineering error or a freak accident, but it’s a tragedy that we should all remember.