A famous flat-earther just flew 2,000 feet in his homemade rocket

The 61-year-old limousine driver "Mad" Mike Hughes managed to rectify the errors of a failed launch last month

By Matthew Rozsa
March 26, 2018 5:11PM (UTC)
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"Mad" Mike Hughes' home-made rocket launches near Amboy, Calif., on March 24, 2018. (AP/Matt Hartman)

A self-taught rocket scientist who insists that the earth is flat managed to partially silence his critics by launching a rocket he made nearly 2,000 feet into the air.

The 61-year-old limousine driver "Mad" Mike Hughes managed to rectify the errors of a failed launch last month with a successful one on Saturday, according to USA Today. Hughes achieved his goal in the Mojave Desert, located roughly 200 miles east of Los Angeles, by shooting into space from a self-made vertical platform designed to prevent him from accidentally landing on public land.


The launch occurred mostly without incident. After Hughes deployed a parachute to exit the rocket, he discovered that he was dropping too fast, requiring him to use a second parachute. He still had a rough landing afterward, although he sounded exultant at his success and described himself as "relieved."

"I’m tired of people saying I chickened out and didn’t build a rocket," Hughes told reporters after he had landed. "I’m tired of that stuff. I manned up and did it."

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."


Hughes had tried on three other occasions to launch himself into the air with a rocket since last year, according to The Washington Post. His underlying goal is to raise enough from the publicity around his flat-earth beliefs to eventually fund a hot-air balloon ride and then a rocket-pack ride, which would allow Hughes to determine the Earth's shape on his own based on analysis of the horizon.

While it's easy enough to ridicule Hughes for his flat-earth beliefs — and Salon is comfortable going on the record by saying that the world is round, angry letter-writers be damned — it is no small feat to successfully launch one's self into the air with a homemade rocket. Hughes deserves credit for having done so, even if his ideas about basic earth and space science should be taken with several spoonfuls of salt.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Flat Earth Flat Earther "mad" Mike Hughes