Great Britain

Daredevil dies during homemade rocket launch in California

A self-styled daredevil has died after a rocket in which he launched himself crashed into the ground.

“Mad” Mike Hughes, 64, died after the homemade rocket crashed on private property near Barstow, California, on Saturday afternoon, the Daily Press of Victorville reported.

Waldo Stakes, a colleague who was at the rocket launch, said: “It was unsuccessful, and he passed away.” He declined to comment further.

A video posted on social media showed a rocket being fired into the sky and a parachute – apparently deployed too early – trailing behind it, before it plummeted to the ground nearby.

Justin Chapman, a freelance journalist, said he and his wife witnessed the crash. The rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have torn the parachutes attached to it, he said.

According to a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department statement, deputies were called to the event.

“A man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event,” it said. The sheriff’s department did not identify the person who died.

In March 2018, Hughes, who believed the Earth was flat, propelled himself about 570 metres (1,875 feet) into the air before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert.

“My story really is incredible,” Hughes said at the time. “It’s got a bunch of storylines – the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It’s the downside of all this.”