A man has died whilst attempting to launch a homemade rocket in the Californian desert.
64-year-old Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes, of Apple Valley, crash-landed a steam-powered rocket shortly after take-off on Saturday, February 22. A well-known flat Earth conspiracy theorist, Hughes had been trying to prove the Earth was indeed flat by getting as close to space as possible.
Assisted by his partner Waldo Stakes, Hughes had attempted to reach heights of 5,000 feet (1.5 km) while riding the rocket. The launch was filmed as part of Homemade Astronauts, a TV show about amateur rocket makers set to air on the US Science Channel.
Footage shared on social media shows a rocket being fired, seconds before plummeting back down to Earth. A parachute could be seen trailing behind the rocket, having apparently been deployed too soon.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has since confirmed officers had been called to a rocket launch event at approximately 2.00pm local time on Saturday, February 22, and that ‘a man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert’.
Hughes’ publicist has since confirmed to US news outlets that it was the pilot who passed away during the accident. No other injuries have been reported.
The Science Channel has tweeted the following tribute to Hughes:
Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey.
Hughes and his assistants had built the rocket in his back garden, as reported by BBC News, and had spent about $18,000 (£14,000). The rocket reportedly ran off steam which it ejected through a nozzle to propel it forward.
Daredevil Hughes made headlines back in 2018 after blasting himself 1,875ft (570m) into the sky in a rocket before hitting the ground with a bump.
It’s estimated he had reached a speed of 350mph before activating his parachute. Hughes had also smashed a Guinness World Record in 2002 after completing the longest limousine ramp jump on record; jumping 31.39m (103ft) in a stretched limo at California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
Speaking to CBS News in October 2018, Hughes said:
I just want people to question everything. Question what your congressman is doing, your city council. Question what really happened during the Civil War. What happened during 9/11.
Our thoughts are with the family of Mike Hughes at this difficult time.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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