Self-taught rocket plans to launch over the ghost town of California


The countdown to launch it is getting even closer and there is still much left for the self-taught rocket scientist "Crazy" Mike Hughes to make: last minute modifications to his ship. Lift your flight suit. Leave enough food for your four cats, just in case something happens.

Hughes is a 61-year-old limo driver who has spent the last few years building a steam-powered rocket with spare parts in his garage. His project has cost him $ 20,000, which includes Rust-Oleum painting to imagine and a mobile home he bought on Craigslist that he converted into a ramp.

Your first rocket test will also be the launch date: on Saturday, when you put on your homemade contraption and try to launch yourself on the ghost town of Amboy, California. You will travel approximately one mile at a speed of approximately 500 mph.

"If you're not afraid of death, you're an idiot," Hughes said. "It's very scary, but none of us comes out alive from this world, I like to do extraordinary things that nobody else can do, and nobody in the history of humanity has been designed, built and launched on their own rocket. traveling. "

The driver of the Daredevil limousine has been called a bit of everything in his career: eccentric, extravagant and reckless. It does not bother you. He believes what he believes, even that the Earth is flat. He knows that this thought is an enigma, since it is about to be thrown into the atmosphere.

Later, he intends to build a rocket to take him to space, so he can take a picture and see with his own eyes.

"I do not believe in science," said Hughes, whose main sponsor of the rocket is Research Flat Earth. "I know the aerodynamics and dynamics of fluids, and how things move through the air, the size of the rocket injectors and the thrust, but that's not science, it's just a formula." There's no difference between science and science fiction "


Hughes plans to launch the rocket on Saturday over the ghost town of Amboy, California, at a speed of approximately 500 mph.

"Crazy" Mike Hughes / AP

This will be the second time he builds and launches a rocket. He jumped to private property in Winkelman, Arizona, on January 30, 2014, and traveled 1,374 feet. It collapsed after that landing – G forces charged a price – and it took three days to recover.

That distance, however, would have been enough to clear the Snake River Canyon, which is a daredevil of the jump Evel Knievel became famous when he could not clear it during his attempt in 1974. Stuntman Eddie Braun made a successful approach to the canyon using the original Knievel plans in September 2016.

Just do not mention Knievel in Hughes. He is not a fan.

"He was a mid-level stunt guy," said Hughes, a former motorcycle rider. "He stole his look from Elvis."

Hughes built his last rocket at the "Rocket Ranch" in Apple Valley, California. It is a five-acre property that rents from Waldo Stakes, the CEO of Land Speed ​​Research Vehicles, who is currently working on a project to make a car travel 2,000 mph.

Their relationship was formed a few years ago when Hughes approached Stakes about building a rocket. Stakes receives many requests of this type, but this one stood out because Hughes was building it himself.

"Nothing is out of reach," Stakes said. "You can do anything, you just have to invest enough money, time and thought."

Here's the thing: Hughes does not make that much money: $ 15 per hour as a limousine driver, in addition to tips. That's why you look for parts, find aluminum for your rocket in metal stores and build the rocket's nozzle on an airplane's air filter. He gave him a good cheap paint varnish, and his launch pad was attached to a motorhome he bought for $ 1,500.

"I want to inspire others, and you have to do something amazing to get anyone's attention," Hughes said.

The location of the jump will be Amboy, a ghost town in the Mojave Desert and along historic Route 66. The fictional city of Radiator Springs in the Disney movie "Cars" was based on Amboy.

Hughes got permission from the city's owner, Albert Okura, who bought Amboy's rights in 2005 for $ 435,000. The launch will take place on a runway next to a dilapidated hangar.

"It's absolutely the most absurd promotional proposal I've had since I bought the whole city in 2005," said Okura, who is also the founder of Juan. Chicken restaurant chain. "He's a real daredevil and I want to be part of it."

On the morning of the launch, Hughes will heat about 70 gallons of water in a stainless steel tank and then take off between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Plan to travel a mile, reaching an altitude of about 1,800 feet, before throwing two parachutes. They are discouraging fans, security issues, but they will be televised on their YouTube channel. He said he had been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Land Administration.

After his jump, he said he was going to announce his plans to enter the race for the governorship of California. It is not a joke.

Your future plans include a field trip. He and Stakes have already brainstormed about a "Rockoon," which is a rocket that, instead of being turned on immediately while on the ground, is transported to the atmosphere by a balloon filled with gas, then separated from the balloon and it turns on. This rocket will carry Hughes to approximately 68 miles in height.

First things first: this jump over a ghost town. He will be playing with his rocket until takeoff.

"A guy who builds his own rocket in his garage, about to jump a mile is very good," Hughes said. "It's the most interesting human interest story in the world."

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