Modern-day daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes died in a mishap while flying aboard an amateur-built rocket, apparently after a mishap with his parachute. The crash took place near Barstow, California, in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Hughes was 64 years old.
While Hughes is well known for the mission he built his PR around, trying to prove the earth was flat by taking pictures of it from a rocket, there’s disagreement about whether he held such views. According to a friend and business associate quoted in the Times article, the flat-earth spin was show-business promotion. Another friend quoted in the story, however, said Hughes was eccentric and had a number of “weird beliefs,” including the flat-earth theory, though in his telling of it, it is more “frisbee” flying disc-shaped.
Videos of the launch show a parachute opening shortly after the rocket fires, leaving Hughes with no way down.
A self-taught engineer, racecar technician and limousine driver, Hughes built his rockets in his garage. The former Apple Valley, California, resident was featured in a documentary, last year’s Rocketman, which chronicled his quest for high flight, including a shot several years that took him up to 1,300 feet.
Hughes’ ultimate goal was to hit the Kaman line, the official dividing line between the atmosphere and space, a mark he never came close to reaching. While some criticized Hughes for his views and self-promotion, one Facebook poster in our view hit the nail on the head, writing, ‘To all the haters out there calling Mr. Hughes a ‘Scam Artist,’ may I suggest that before you pass judgment, you build your own rocket, strap your happy rear end into it and light that candle!”
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