“Mad” Mike Hughes, infamous for his DIY attempts in steam rocket science and his firm belief that the earth is flat, proved naysayers wrong when he finally managed to launch himself 1,875 feet into the sky without harming himself, according to reports.
After failing in two previous attempts to launch a steam-powered rocket bearing the words, “Research Flat Earth” painted on the side, Hughes blasted off on Saturday from the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy, California. The first time Hughes tried it, he blamed government bureaucracy and the second time, the failure to launch was due to unspecified technical problems, Gizmodo reports.
The steam rocket took onlookers by surprise, and was captured on video by freelance reporter Matt Hartman and Amboy town manager Carlos Aceves. There is also video footage showing Hughes being removed from the rocket by paramedics after his landing.
The Bureau of Land Management initially turned down Hughes’ initial attempt to take a flight path that would take him flying over public land, so he modified his rocket to launch from an improvised vertical platform.
Waldo Stakes, his right-hand man, said that they were only able to get the steam rocket to 340 psi instead of 350 psi as planned, but continued with the launch. Hughes apparently did not want a third failed attempt, and was determined to dispel rumors that he was not aboard a rocket he had launched back in 2014. Stakes said that he estimates the speed to be 350 miles per hour.
Hughes later said that apart from an aching back, he felt fine and was relieved to have completed the rocket launch. He said,
I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket. I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it…This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways. This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.
He added, “Am I glad I did it? 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.”