As an amateur rocket-engineer, Hughes created a "self-made steam-powered rocket" to launch him into the air near Barstow, California. Cameras were on-site to film the stunt. However, all they ended up capturing was Hughes' fatal crash landing.
At the time of the launch, it was unclear if Hughes was actually killed in the crash. A reporter that was on the scene, Justin Chapman, told TMZ that Hughes "very likely did not survive" the crash. A rep for the daredevil, Darren Shuster, also said that he believed that Hughes was killed based on the footage he received. Eventually, TMZ was able to confirm Hughes' death.
"When God made Mike he broke the mold. The man was the real deal and lived to push the edge," Shuster said when describing his "one-of-a-kind" client. "He wouldn’t have gone out any other way! RIP."
In a video posted to his YouTube account, Hughes claims that the goal of this launch was to get him to the edge of space.
From the footage of the launch, viewers can see there was a parachute attached to the rocket. This seems to have been a safety measure in case the stunt went left. Yet when the parachute deploys, Hughes is not attached to the other end, giving the appearance that the daredevil stayed in the cockpit for too long.
The 64-year-old was a longtime stunt man. He was also an avid flat Earth believer and even filmed a documentary trying to prove the theory.