Barstow, CA – A daredevil pilot was killed after piloting a homemade rocket that came crashing to the ground shortly after it took off.
In a video that captured the fatal incident, the parachute could be seen coming off moments after the rocket took off. (Video below)
Mike Hughes, 64, crashed landed in his steam-powered rocket on Saturday, according to British Broadcasting Corporation.
Hughes, known as “Mad Mike,” had told people he believed that Earth was flat and he hoped to confirm that someday by going into space. Many news reports stated that was why Hughes did the launch, but Space.com said that was not accurate.
The launch on Saturday was filmed as part of a new TV series about amateur rocket makers called Homemade Astronauts. It was reportedly to be aired on the US Science Channel, according to the BBC.
Justin Chapman is a freelance journalist who witnessed the crash and posted video of it on his Twitter account.
Hughes had the help of Waldo Stakes in his venture, according to Space.com. They had hoped the rocket would take Hughes as high as 5,000 feet into the air.
Space.com reported that Hughes said he had successfully launched himself 1,875 feet into the air in 2018 in an earlier version of the homemade rocket. He told Space.com that his landing from that launch was so hard it caused a compressed vertebra.
“It’s a dangerous thing to do,” Hughes told Space.com in 2018. “Anything [going wrong] could be catastrophic.”
The Washington Post reported that Hughes had wanted to launch himself into space back in November of 2017 but had to postpone it after federal agencies would not permit it on public land.
Space.com reported that Hughes tried another launch in August of 2019 but that was cancelled due to a faulty water heater that he bought on Craigslist.
Watch the video here: