A 29-year-old school dropout turned aviation enthusiast from Fulsawangi in Yavatmal district, who was keen on building his own helicopter, died after being struck by the rotor blade of the contraption that he had built and was testing Wednesday.
Engaged in welding and fabrication works in Fulsawangi, Shaikh Ismail, a Class VIII dropout, had developed an interest in aviation and was working on building his own ‘Munna Helicopter’, for the last two years.
Early Wednesday morning, when Shaikh had decided to undertake a trial run of the contraption and started the engine, its rotor blade tore off and hit him, killing him immediately. “One of the blades fell off and hit the youth on his head,” Yavatmal Superintendent of police Dilip Patil Bhujbal said. The police said that Shaikh did welding and other fabrication work to fund his daily needs while at night he worked on his helicopter.
He had told his friends that helicopters are usually sold for crores and only rich people could afford to ride them. All he wanted was to build a helicopter at Rs 30 lakh so that even a middle-class person could buy one or use in rescue operations during floods or other calamities, a police officer said.
“He had a creative mind. He would learn and build things on his own. Soon after he started working, he learned to manufacture steel cupboards that were famous among the locals in Fulsawangi village,” an officer said.
Shaikh had subsequently developed an interest in aviation and decided to build a helicopter in 2019. “He had visited Bengaluru once and met a few helicopter manufacturers there to learn techniques of making the machine. He was in touch with someone in Bengaluru and on that person’s instruction, he would make necessary changes on his single-seater helicopter,” Inspector Vilas Chauhan of Mahagaon police station said.
The police have learnt that Shaikh had used the engine of Maruti 800 car in his helicopter. Other parts such as rotors, shaft and landing skids were made from the material he procured from the local scrap dealer, the police added. “His friends told us that he was trying to test the machine so that he could display his helicopter to villagers on August 15,” said Chauhan.
Khurshid Akram, a teakwood trader from Pusad town, said, “Shaikh would often say that he would present his helicopter as part of ‘Make in India’ initiative and had written the slogan on it as well.”
The police said that early Wednesday, Shaikh took his machine to an open ground near the workshop. He was accompanied by some of his friends who were taking a video of the trial run. When he started the engine, the tail rotor came off and hit the main rotor which subsequently hit Shaikh, who was inside the machine, killing him instantly. Shaikh’s friend and other villagers rushed him to a nearby government hospital where he was declared dead before admission.
Mahagaon police have recorded the matter as an accidental death. The police said that they are waiting to record the statements of his family members and will soon register a case of 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code.
Shaikh was buried Wednesday amid a large gathering.
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