By Len Wilcox
California has a reputation for attracting some very interesting characters. There’s been another one on the loose, making a name for himself, out on the Mojave Desert. He built a steam-powered rocket and shot himself up into the sky, about 1800 feet, hitting 350 miles an hour and falling back to earth, all to somehow prove that the earth is flat.
“Mad” Mike Hughes is a 61-year old limo driver and amateur rocket scientist, and claims to be a devout “flat earther.” A few years ago, even before he had his revelation that the earth was flat, he decided to create a GoFundMe page to build a rocket, but it went nowhere. He raised about $300, which didn’t begin to cover the costs.
He funded what he could on his limo driver wages, then one day he discovered that the earth was flat. Not only was it flat, he felt he could prove it if he could just launch his rocket and look around. He went on an internet radio show dedicated to flat earthers and professed he was a recent convert to the flat earth ideology. He explained his project to the host and its 300 or so listeners, who were impressed that he’d actually ridden in a rocket. He said he was the real thing, unlike those fake paid actors hired by NASA.
Mad Mike must be quite a talker, because the show host and his listeners decided to back his project, and the limo-driving rocket man got an infusion of cash. A Flat Earth Society GoFundMe drive raised nearly $8,000 for Hughes. It goes to show that P.T. Barnum was right, and there’s still one born every minute.
Mad Mike built his rocket and launched it on a hot Mojave day in 2018, flying high over the town of Amboy. It had to be quite a sight, a bright-red, home-built rocket launching into the sky with Mad Mike riding along. It went up almost 2000 feet then came back down, straight down, and fortunately for Mad Mike his parachutes deployed and brought him back to earth at a fairly reasonable speed. He was bounced around pretty bad and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but he survived the landing, with some minor injuries.
He didn’t get to see much during his flight. He didn’t even get as high as some of the desert mountains around Amboy. I think a short ride in a Jeep would have shown him a lot more. But, of course, he wasn’t there to learn – it was just a show.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View.
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