Call him crazy, call him ill informed, but you can’t call him a quitter. “Mad” Mike Hughes, a flat earther that built his own steam powered rocket and claims to have plans to run for governor of California finally made it to launch on Saturday. His homemade rocket reached a peak altitude of some 1,875 feet before Hughes had to deploy both his primary and backup parachutes to slow his descent back to earth enough to keep it survivable.
“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” said Hughes. “This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.”
His launch vehicle, a converted mobile home, finally found a place to settle down after a series of technical issues and conflicts with the Bureau of Land Management forced him to postpone and relocate the launch repeatedly since the original launch date scheduled in November. Serving as both the launch and landing site for the rocket, the mostly abandoned desert town of Amboy, California proved to be a most fitting location for the over-the-top endeavor helmed by a 61-year-old man that believes the earth to be “shaped like a frisbee.”
According to details released following the launch, the homemade rocket reached a terminal velocity of around 350 miles per hour on its way to its peak altitude of just shy of 2,000 feet. From there, he launched his rocket propelled parachute, but soon realized that he was still coming down too fast. He then deployed his backup chute as well, but the rocket still hit the ground with a significant thud, cracking the rocket’s nose cone and battering the man inside.
“Am I glad I did it?” Hughes, a limo driver when not building rockets, said. “Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed. At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”
Hughes claims that the intent of this launch wasn’t to prove or disprove his beliefs regarding the shape of planet earth, which is good, because a maximum altitude of 1,875 feet placed him at about 33,000 feet shy of getting a solid view of the curvature of the earth. One could be forgiven for assuming the launch had something to do with that belief, however, as Hughes painted the words “Research” and “Flat Earth” on the sides of the rocket. Had Hughes hoped to assess the shape of the planet, buying a ticket on a commercial airline flight might have been a better alternative.
Lying along the route between Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms as the Lance Corporal’s oasis that is Las Vegas, most Marines that find themselves stationed at “The Stumps” have a story about traveling through the creepy ghost town that is Amboy, California. The town, which is comprised of one renovated 1950s style gas station and a number of dilapidated buildings including a church, was purchased in its entirety for a paltry sum of $435,000 by a man named Albert Okura in 2005. It is perhaps best known among Marines not only for its abandoned structures, but for the “shoe tree” reaching toward passers-by heading for Vegas.
Now, according to Okura, the town will no longer be seen as only the desolate setting of horror movies and music videos alike.
Mike branded us as ‘Rocket Town,'” Okura said. “It was amazing.”
“Mad” Mike Hughes, who claims to have one previous launch in a different rocket under his belt, isn’t done yet. He currently has plans to build what he calls a “rockoon,” which would involve carrying another rocket to a higher altitude via balloon before igniting the engines. That launch, Hughes estimates, would allow him to reach a terminal altitude of around 68 miles – plenty high enough to assess the roundness of the planet he took off from. Of course, that’s assuming his plans to run for governor don’t get in the way.
“Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he said. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”
You can watch the launch in the video below:
Image courtesy of YouTube