After a number of vehicular glitches and legal hiccups, ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes, the 61-year-old flat-Earther who is on a spree to see our planet’s actual curvature, finally managed to launch himself 1,875 feet up in the sky on Saturday.
Hughes took off on his homemade, steam-powered rocket from the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy, California and hard-landed some 1,500 feet from the blast-off site. The daredevil is believed to have soared at a whopping speed of 350mph before deploying the parachute for plummeting back.
The descent wasn’t easy at all and Hughes had to use two chutes on his way back to make sure he gets slow enough to land without getting critically injured or crushed to death under the impact of fierce aerodynamic forces.
After the launch, the limo-driver cum-stuntman told Associated Press that apart from a slight backache, he was totally fine. He also expressed how “relieved” he felt after completing the flight successfully.
The jump, which lasted for a few short minutes, came after a long line of hiccups. It was initially planned for the month of November but was delayed multiple times owing to mechanical glitches in the homemade rocket and legal troubles with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
This drew immediate flak from the audience but Hughes remained undeterred. He modified the flight trajectory of his vehicle with a vertical launch platform and launched himself without getting over public lands, which led to the BLM issue, in the first place.
“I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket. I’m tired of that stuff,” he told AP. “I manned up and did it.”
Though everything happened the way Hughes planned, it is worth noting a 1,875-feet jump was not enough to see the Earth’s exact curvature. For that, the stuntman needs to go further up.
In fact, in a previous video, Hughes had noted that the homemade rocket flight was essentially a stunt aimed at garnering publicity and funding for designing the vehicle that could go high up in space.
This he describes as a ‘Rockoon’ or a mix of both, a rocket as well as a hot-air balloon, according to AP. It will be an air-launched vehicle that would go up to a certain altitude on a gas-filled balloon and blast-off to take him nearly 70 miles above ground.
The task appears challenging, but for a man who has already completed two high-altitude rocket flights (first up to 1,374 feet in 2014) on homemade rockets, even that seems possible. “Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is,” he added. “Do I know for sure? No. That’s why I want to go up in space.”