It's very hard to know what'll be the thing that might spruce up your Wednesday each week. For instance, last week, on my way to work, I saw a duck eat an entire peeled banana in what seemed like a deleted scene from a very low-budget, urban episode of Planet Earth II. This week, it has thankfully not been left to some bravely ambitious waterfowl tackling a piece of comically large exotic fruit to put some pep in my step. Instead, my spirits have been raised by one brave maverick, one absolutely cavalier bastard by the name of Mad Mike Hughes. And, the banana that he is ambitiously trying to wrap his tiny beak around (metaphorically) is the idea that the earth is flat and that he will prove this by firing himself into the air on a self-constructed steam-powered rocket.
Now, Mad Mike Hughes. Poor Mad Mike Hughes. It is unclear whether he has been given the 'Mad'-prefix due to some of the 'crazy' shenanigans he gets up to, or whether he was christened that by his parents and has spent his entire life, under the curse of nominative determinism, trying desperately to live up to the name his parents gave him; feeling obliged to find ever more elaborate and 'zany' ways of justifying his outrageous name - like believing that the earth is flat and attempting to disprove science's folly in believing it to actually be round.
Mr. Hughes, a 61 year-old limo driver from California - because of course he is - has constructed the steam-powered rocket out of scrap metal and his own foolhardy optimism - like some sort of deranged Victorian scientist. He estimates the construction to have cost some $20,000. Though one imagines the salary of an elderly Californian limo driver does not a worthy space-craft make, as such, a large part of this was funded by a group called 'Research Flat Earth'.
Mr. Hughes has stated that he is a recent convert to the idea that the earth is not in fact an orb, but is really a sort of large disc, like a giant CD or very large hob-nob. He said in an interview with the Associated Press that "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."
His goal is apparently to ascend high enough above the Mojave desert in, let's call it what it is, his home-made death-pipe, and travel 'dozens of miles into space'. Once there he will presumably prove that the earth is flat by looking at it and seeing whether it looks flat or not.
Now, some of you may be worrying about Mr. Hughes' well-being, about whether a rocket assembled for the price of a small family car, in a limousine driver's back-garden, can really protect a man from the extreme stresses of being launched into space. Well, I need only refer to his credentials to put your minds at ease. He did something of a test flight back in 2014, a very, very poor quality video of which can be seen below.
Now given that the parachute ripped due to being deployed when the rocket was still travelling too fast and that he consequently landed with such a strong impact that he suffered mild spinal damage and had to walk with the assistance of a walker for two weeks after this, I think we can all rest easy knowing that this next planned launch will go well.
May the lord have mercy on his soul.