Mad Mike Hughes, a flat-earther and daredevil, died on Saturday after a failed attempt to launch himself 5,000 feet in the air in a homemade steam-powered rocket.
Mad Mike, who styles himself as “the world’s greatest daredevil,” died on Saturday afternoon after his parachute failed during the rocket launch from the desert in California.
According to the BBC, Deputies from San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene of the crash off highway 247 in Barstow, California, at around 2 p.m. PST.
A video of the incident posted on Twitter by freelance writer Justin Chapman on February 22 (see Twitter video below) shows the moment that Mad Mike Hughes launches into the air from the desert near Barstow.
The parachute can be seen falling off the rocket as it launches. Mad Mike can be seen plummeting to the ground shortly afterward.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said that “a man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert.”
— Justin Chapman (@justindchapman) February 22, 2020
The launch was filmed for Science Channel’s Homemade Astronauts series
Science Channel confirmed Mad Mike’s death on Saturday. The launch was filmed for the channel’s new series, Homemade Astronauts.
“Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike Hughes’ family and friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey.”
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 pic.twitter.com/GxwjpVf2md
— Science Channel (@ScienceChannel) February 23, 2020
Mad Mike built the steam-powered rocket in his backyard
Mad Mike built the steam-powered rocket with his assistants in his backyard at a cost of $18,000, according to the BBC. The project was done in partnership with general contractor Waldo Stakes.
Hughes’s ultimate plan was to build a rocket that would launch him to a height about 62 miles above the Earth’s surface. The height is considered to be roughly the boundary of the Earth’s atmosphere.
He was trying to reach an altitude of 5,000 feet on Saturday after successfully launching himself to about 1,870 feet in March 2019, the BBC reported.
Who was Mad Mike Hughes?
He was born in February 1956 and died on Saturday at the age of 64.
In 2002, he broke Guinness World Record for the longest limousine ramp jump in a stretch Lincoln Town Car.
He gained notoriety as a flat Earth believer who also espoused conspiracy theories about NASA’s Moon landings.
However, Buzz Feed reports that Darren Schuster, a PR representative for Mad Mike, denied the claims that his rocket project was inspired by his desire to prove the flat Earth theory.
Shuster claimed that Mad Mike’s flat Earth claims were intended to draw attention to his project and help him raise funds.
But according to the AP in a 2018 report, Mad Mike once said that he believed that the Earth was flat and that he wanted to launch himself high in the air to prove it.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is. Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
But the same AP report also noted that Mad Mike has also always insisted that his rocket mission was not to prove his flat Earth theory.