Daredevil ‘Mad’ Mike dies in rocket crash
US daredevil rocket builder “Mad” Mike Hughes of Apple Valley died when the homemade steam-powered vessel he manned as part of a television series crashed in the San Bernardino County desert near Barstow.
The Science Channel, which has scheduled the series “Homemade Astronauts” to premiere this year, and TMZ reported that Hughes, 64, was aboard the rocket and perished in the accident.
A video posted on Twitter shows a parachute separating from the rocket just after launch and then moments later, the rocket falling from hundreds of feet nose-down.
“Michael ‘Mad Mike’ Hughes tragically passed away today during an attempt to launch his homemade rocket. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time. It was always his dream to do this launch & Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey,” a Science Channel post on Twitter said.
Waldo Stakes, a colleague who was at the rocket launch, also said Hughes was killed. “It was unsuccessful, and he passed away,” Stakes said. He declined further comment.
Justin Chapman, a freelance journalist, told The Associated Press that 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, Chapman said.
Hughes was a resident of Apple Valley, according to the Victorville Daily Press.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said that about 1:50 pm., deputies were called to an event on private property off Highway 247 near Barstow, where a man was pronounced dead after the crash. A sheriff’s spokeswoman was not able to immediately provide any other details or confirm the identity of the dead man. The sheriff’s aviation and special investigations units are trying to determine the cause of the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration was not involved in the investigation, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. “In the past, we determined his previous flight attempts did not fall within the FAA’s regulatory authority,” Gregor said.