His next mission? Running for governor.
Photo of Hughes via Facebook; photo of the rocket launch by Matt Hartman via AP
A few months back, "Mad" Mike Hughes—a 61-year old limo driver, amateur rocket scientist, and devout flat earther—vowed to strap himself into a homemade spaceship and blast off into the skies to prove our planet is shaped like a pancake. He scheduled the launch for last November, but given that his mission was kind of illegal and borderline suicidal, it kept getting pushed back.
On Saturday, he finally rocketed himself into the air above the Mojave Desert in Amboy, California, the Associated Press reports. Miraculously, he’s still alive.
At about 2:30 PM, he clambered into a rocket emblazoned with the words "FLAT EARTH," buckled himself in, and pulled on his helmet. After a buddy helped him close the hatch above his head, his ship—rigged to a bootleg missile-launching system that looked a little like a carnival ride—prepped for takeoff. Then, with no countdown or warning whatsoever, he shot up into the heavens, flying 1,875 feet into the air at about 350 MPH.
As you can see in the profanity-laden video above, once Hughes reached his maximum altitude, his rocket did a little 180 and started careening toward the center of our definitely-round planet. Barreling toward certain death, he deployed a parachute, which left him gently swaying back to the desert. Still, he was coming in too hot, and—just before he slammed into the ground—he pulled a second chute.
Hughes was carted off in an ambulance after he touched down, AP reports. Somehow, he managed to avoid any serious injuries.
"Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess," he told AP. "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 didn't say what kind of a look he got at our planet, but 2,000 feet off the ground isn't quite high enough to get an ISS-style view of the Earth. Sadly, Hughes and his fellow flat earthers are no closer to proving their theory—especially considering, you know, gravity.
"Do I believe the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee? I believe it is," he told the LA Times. "Do I know for sure? No. That's why I want to go up in space."
Along with a renewed appreciation for his pets, Hughes's close call with death apparently got him thinking about his future. He told the AP that his next step is to run for governor of California, seeing as he might have a better shot making a bid for public office.
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Related: Meet the People Who Think the Earth Is Flat