'Mad' Mike Hughes, the high-flying daredevil referred to by some as this generation's Evel Knievel, has reportedly passed away this weekend after his latest stunt went terribly wrong. On Saturday, Hughes had launched a homemade rocket near Barstow, California, hoping to reach the height of 5,000 feet. Unfortunately, the rocket's parachute appeared to deploy early and detach from the aircraft, sending Hughes speeding towards the ground as onlookers watched in horror. Death was more than likely instantaneous, leaving the man often billed as the "world's greatest daredevil" dead at the age of 64.
Captured on camera, the stunt was being filmed for the Science Channel television series Homemade Astronauts, a program aiming to "explore the final frontier on limited budgets." According to the San Bernardino County coroner, the incident will probably bring about a "lengthy" investigation to try and determine what exactly went wrong. Because Hughes didn't activate the rocket's backup parachutes during its descent, it's possible the daredevil was knocked unconscious during the launch, though no facts have yet been made apparent and that is just speculation at this time.
Hughes has been performing as a daredevil for the past several decades, and stunts like these are what made him who he was. In addition to his work with homemade rockets, Hughes specialized in making long-distance jumps with a stretch limousine, setting the Guinness world record for a 103-foot jump in a limo in 2002. He'd fly in his first rocket in 2014, reaching a height of 1,374 feet, but a harsh landing had him using a walker in the weeks that followed. Still, Hughes took a liking to the rockets and it wasn't long before he was flying even higher. In 2018, he successfully flew another rocket almost 1,900 feet into the sky in the Mojave Desert.
"Mad" Mike was also known as a flat-earth conspiracy theorist, based on remarks he made about his rockets prior to his 2018 launch. Hughes had said that he believed Earth was "shaped like a Frisbee," and that's why he was personally flying towards outer space to find out for sure. However, according to Hughes' public relations representative, Darren Shuster, the claims were made only to drum up public interest in the daredevil's stunts. "He did have some governmental conspiracy theories. But don't confuse it with that flat Earth thing. That was a PR stunt we dreamed up," Shuster says.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike Hughes' family and friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey," the Science Channel said of Hughes' passing in a statement. Certainly, Hughes died doing what he loved, though his presence will be very badly missed by those he left behind. One thing that's for sure is the legendary daredevil will never be forgotten. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from the Los Angeles Times.