Michael Hughes

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The fault in our stars
Icon pseudoastronomy.svg
Adding epicycles

Michael "Mad Mike" Hughes (c. 1956[1]–2020[2]) was a publicity hound ("the world's most famous limo driver"[3]), a flat Earther, and conspiracy theorist. Not much is known publicly about Hughes before he took up a career as a limousine driver in 1996,[3] but that and being involved with NASCAR racing[4] were basically his entrée into flat Eartherism. In 2002, Hughes set a record for jumping a stretch limousine into the air for a distance of 103 feet.[5]

In 2010, Hughes planned to jump his "X-2 SkyLimo" using a steam rocketWikipedia and recreate his hero Evel Knievel'sWikipedia jump over the Snake River Canyon.[6] After many unexplained postponements, X-2 SkyLimo was launched on January 30, 2014 and reached 1,374 feet elevation.[7][8] By May 2014, Hughes announced a planned second launch for June 28, 2014,[8] which did not happen.

On March 30, 2016, Hughes told Ars Technica about some very sketchy plans to take "a balloon up to 20,000 feet or so with a rocket strapped to his shoulders, releasing the balloon, and flying all the way to 62 miles above the planet, into outer space, before coming back to Earth."[9] Balloon-rocket hybrids, while technically feasible, have both substantial limitations and complications.[10]

On June 11, 2017, Hughes had a phone interview with flat Earther "Infinite Plane Society".[11] In the interview, Hughes made the following remarks, demonstrating his crank magnetism:

  • He said he was a flat Earther.[11]:(at time 7:30)
  • "John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are Freemasons. Once you understand that, you understand the roots of the deception [of 'ball Earth']."[11]:(at time 7:38)[12]
  • The 1967 death of Thomas Baron,Wikipedia a NASA safety inspector was suspicious despite evidence to the contrary (Baron was not censored and a forensic report ruled that his death was an accident).[11]:(at time 7:50)[13]
  • NASA astronauts were murdered rather than dying in accidents.[11]:(at time 8:40)
  • One's name on documents does represent not oneself (i.e. Freeman on the land nonsense).[11]:(at time 9:35) Hughes claimed to own the "legal person[s]" named Obama, Charles Manson, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, and OJ Simpson.[11]:(at time 9:50)
  • There is both antichrist and Illuminati symbolism on the walls of the Denver Airport.[11]:(at time 12:16)
  • He hinted that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.[11]:(at time 14:05)

Subsequent to this interview and a small amount of funding via Gofundme ($7895),[14] Hughes began including "Research Flat Earth" on his rocket sponsorships.[15]

On November 20, 2017, Hughes fulfilled his longtime goal of becoming famous, though perhaps not as he had originally planned, with his first national news article on his wacky flat Earth beliefs.[16] He proclaimed his disjunction with reality:[16]

I don't believe in science. I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that's not science, that’s just a formula. There's no difference between science and science fiction.

Hughes stated that the launch would be November 25, 2017, and he would plan to reach an altitude of 1800 feet at 500 miles/hour,[16][12] only 500 feet higher and 150 miles/hour faster than his previous launch. The launch was postponed indefinitely because, despite his claims,[16] he did not have permission from the Bureau of Land Management which was required because the planned launch was to be over BLM lands.[12] He tried again to launch his rocket on February 3, 2018, but failed to even get it off the ground.[17] He finally managed to get his rocket into the air in March 2018 and survived although he was bumped and bruised.[18]

The first image showing the Earth's curvature, from 1933

By November 3, 2016, the rocket technology had not changed.[19] Since Hughes had taken the flat Earth "red pill",[11] it was unclear what he could possibly prove:

  • His rockets were only capable of reaching an elevation of 2000 feet or so, not even taller than foothills. Mount Everest is more than 29,000 feet elevation (8,848m).
  • Steam rockets are characterized by low performance,[20] so they are probably entirely unsuitable for launching objects into Earth orbit, which generally requires a thrust of 2,500 to 4,500 m/s (9,000 to 16,200 km/h; 5,600 to 10,100 mph).[20] The X-2 SkyLimo was claimed to be able to reach a velocity of only 350 miles/hour.[21]
  • Even if one accepts his mad claim of a NASA conspiracy to hide the flat Earth, there was already photographic evidence of the curvature of the Earth in 1933 based on a balloon flight that reached 11,300m.[citation needed] Hughes' balloon-rocket fantasy is entirely unnecessary: just send a balloon up to about 11,300m and take a photo to confirm or refute the earliest evidence. Two men have subsequently traveled much higher using balloons, Joseph KittingerWikipedia (31,300m in 1960) and Felix BaumgartnerWikipedia (38,969m in 2012).

Hughes died in 2020 following a crash from an attempted rocket launch.[2][22]

External links[edit]


  1. Daredevil delays jump over Palo Duro Canyon by Lance Lahnert (July 21, 2016 01:11 am — Updated March 29, 2016 06:00 pm) Amarillo Globe-News.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Daredevil 'Mad Mike' Hughes dies while attempting to launch a homemade rocket by Hollie Silverman (Updated 11:46 PM ET, Sat February 22, 2020) CNN.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Latest on Mad Mike (March 24, 2008) LCT Magazine.
  4. What Does A limo Driver Know About NASCAR? by Michael Hughes (2007) self-published. ISBN 1934379182.
  5. World Record Jump Mad Mike Hughes (archived from October 7, 2009).
  6. Mad Mike Hughes LIVE via TodoCast.TV Pay Per View 01 - 01 - 10 (archived from October 6, 2009)
  7. Mad' Mike Hughes Rocket Flight by Flat Earth News (Sep 28, 2015) YouTube
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mad Mike Hughes (archived from May 17, 2014).
  9. Mad Mike postpones Texas canyon jump after "brutal" rocket tests: The would-be King of the Daredevils wants to ensure the "bad boy" doesn't misfire. by Eric Berger — 3/30/2016, 10:10 AM) Ars Technica.
  10. See the Wikipedia article on Non-rocket spacelaunch § Balloon.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 Mad Mike Hughes Interview on Infinite Plane Society LIVE by The Daily Plane DOTcom (Jun 11, 2017) YouTube.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 A flat-Earther's plan to launch himself in a homemade rocket has been postponed — again by Amy B Wang and Avi Selk (November 27, 2017) The Washington Post.
  13. Baron Report (1965-1966) NASA Historical Reference Collection
  14. Flat Earth Community Rocket Launch Gofundme
  15. Mad Mike Hughes (archived from September 24, 2017)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Self-taught rocket scientist plans to launch over ghost town by Pat Graham (Nov. 20, 2017) Associated Press.
  17. Rafi Letzter, Flat-Earth Rocketeer Fails to Launch (Again). livescience.com, 5 February 2018.
  18. Tom McKay, At Long Last, Flat Earth Rocketeer Finally Manages to Blast Himself Into Sky at God Knows What Speed. Gizmodo, March 25, 2018.
  19. X-2 SkyLimo Rocket Mad Mike Hughes (archived from November 3, 2016)
  20. 20.0 20.1 See the Wikipedia article on Steam rocket.
  21. X-2 SkyLimo Rocket Mad Mike Hughes (archived from October 7, 2009).
  22. Deadly Disinfo: How the Flat Earth Conspiracy Doomed an Amateur Rocketeer. polygraph.info, 25 February 2020.