The gentleman inventor

Hello there,

After an extended hiatus – during which I solved a murder mystery on a train between Paris and Istanbul and uncovered the holy jade Xiuhcoatl in a previously unexplored Aztec temple – I return to your computing device’s screen. You may have inferred from the previous sentence that the gentleman is both resourceful and ingenious. How correct you are.

Michael Caine, the height of ingenuity, simultaneously gets his daily recommended intake of calcium while undertaking a gold heist.

Of course, at the epitome of resourcefulness and ingenuity is the gentleman inventor. Here we will look at some of the most successful gentleman inventors of recent years. First on the list is Horace Lawson Hunley.

Horace Hunley with his invention - an early type of submarine. This picture was taken years before Hunley came to realise that submarines operate optimally underwater.

Hunley invented a primitive form of the submarine in the USA during the 19th century. Hunley was killed in 1863 in a submarine accident.

Another pioneer of transportational inventation was Otto Lilienthal. Lilienthal was a pioneer of aviation and the first person to make sustained gliding flights. Lilienthal invented and exhibited his successful gliders in a time when human flight was thought of merely as a thing of witchcraft and the then-unreleased Snakes on a Plane.

Otto Lilienthal escapes a hoard of townspeople brandishing pitch forks and torches accusing him of using black magic.

Lilienthal has gone down in history as one of the forefathers of modern aviation. Otto Lilienthal was killed while flying one of his gliders in 1896.

Another inventor in the field of aviation was Franz Reichelt. This French tailor attempted to invent a suit that doubled as a parachute.

Franz Reichelt tried to make his invention both stylish and effective. He acheived neither.

Reichelt, ever the visionary, was convinced his parachute would be a revolution in aviator’s style and safety. Reichelt died in 1912 after testing the parachute by jumping off the Eiffel tower.

A man who could have used a working parachute was Aurel Vlaicu. Vlaicu was a Romanian inventory who invented a self-powered aeroplane in 1910. He was also a skilled pilot.

Vlaicu was also the first man to fly in a bowler hat.

Vlaicu was killed while flying his plane in 1913. But his legacy of bowler hats on inventors lives on…

...through this guy.

This man pictured above died in an alcohol-related traffic accident. At this point, it would be irresponsible of us not to warn you of the dangers of drinking while driving your gun-cars. Instead of making war, make yourself another Scotch. You may also like to reward yourself with a cigar.

Speaking of cars, Max Valier was an Austrian inventor who pioneered the rocket car. You and I now take rocket cars for granted, but it is all thanks to Valier’s pioneering work in the 1920s.

Valier bypassed the derivation of thermodynamics and the development of the internal combusion engine by simply putting two alcohol-fuelled rockets in place of the engine in this car.

I would at this point like to reassure you that no Scotch was wasted in the rocket car pictured above. Max Valier was killed when one of his rockets exploded in 1930.

So if you put your mind to it, you too could one day be killed by your own invention and go down in the The Gentleman’s Archives as a gentlemanly inventor.

But until then, it's time to get back to the place where you come up with your inventions.

Until next time,

HL Griffith