By Tim Binnall
'Mad' Mike Hughes, the daredevil Flat Earth enthusiast who garnered worldwide headlines with his homemade rocket launch back in 2018, sadly passed away this weekend when an attempt at exceeding his previous feat turned tragic. The accident reportedly occurred on Saturday morning near the California city of Barstow when Hughes took to the sky in a steam-powered vessel of his own creation with the goal of reaching an altitude of 5,000 feet.
As a crowd of onlookers and a camera crew from the Science Channel watched in horror, the Hughes-piloted rocket soared into the air before quickly plummeting to the ground. At the start of the launch, which can be seen above in a video that thankfully ends before the moment of impact, one of the parachutes designed to safely bring the vessel back down to Earth can be seen tearing away from the rocket. This likely set off a chain of events wherein the remaining three parachutes subsequently failed to deploy, leading to the daredevil's demise.
In late 2017 and early 2018, the colorful Hughes garnered a considerable amount of media attention when he announced that he was going to launch himself in a homemade rocket in order to prove that the Earth is flat. After a series of scrubbed attempts, the daredevil finally managed to successfully take to the sky in his steam-powered vessel and reached an altitude of nearly 1,900 feet. As one has likely surmised, the stunt failed to confirm Hughes' convictions about the flatness of the Earth.
Interestingly, in the days since the crash that took his life, a representative for Hughes has reportedly claimed that the daredevil's advocacy for the much-maligned conspiracy theory was, in fact, not exactly on the level. "We used Flat Earth as a PR stunt. Period," Darren Shuster told BuzzFeed News, "Flat Earth allowed us to get so much publicity that we kept going! I know he didn’t believe in flat Earth and it was a shtick."
Regardless of whether or not Hughes truly subscribed to the Flat Earth theory, his connection to the much-maligned conspiracy has unfortunately led to all manner of online ridicule at the deceased daredevil's expense. While it's understandable that some cynical individuals might find his fate amusing, it's important to remember that 'Mad' Mike Hughes was beloved by many people who will miss him tremendously and, as such, our hearts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.