Mike Hughes, a 62-year-old Apple Valley limousine driver, successfully launched himself above the Mojave Desert in a handmade steam-powered rocket on the final Sunday afternoon in March. He would be trying in some form or another for years. Hughes earned a Guinness World Record for the longest ramp jump in a limo, an extended Lincoln Town Car, in 2002, jumping 103 feet. He supposedly flew a garage-built rocket thirteen hundred and seventy-four feet and was injured when it crashed in 2014. He intended to try again in 2016, but his Kickstarter effort, which wanted to earn $150,000, only received two backers and $310 in donations.
Further efforts were cancelled due to technical issues, logistical challenges, and bureaucratic red tape. He finally made amends a few months ago. Things were leaking, and fasteners needed tightening, but Hughes blasted off from a temporary ramp attached to a motorhome he would purchase on Craigslist at around three o’clock, flew to over nine hundred feet, and parachuted back to Earth less than gently after a minute or two.
Hughes would not have received much media notice if it were not for his vocal view that the planet is flat. Hughes only recently converted. He announced his beliefs and objectives to the Infinite Plane Society, a live-stream YouTube channel that explores Earth’s flatness and other topics, in 2017 and asked for the community’s support. Hughes was able to make the Mojave leap with the words “Research Flat Earth” inscribed on his rocket when The Daily Plane, a flat-Earth information site (“News, Media, and Science in a post-Globe Reality”), sponsored a GoFundMe campaign that generated almost $75,000 on his behalf.
Hughes did not anticipate his journey to reveal the Earth’s flatness to him; a vantage point of 1900 feet, or even a mile, is far too low. He also dislikes how the mainstream media has covered the situation. This was only a warm-up flight. His flat-Earth expedition will take place in the future when he will fire a rocket from a balloon (a “rockoon”) and travel upwards of seventy miles, where the beauty of our planet will be undeniable.
If you are new to the twenty-first century, you should be aware that a rising number of people believe that most of what you have been taught about our world is false: The Earth is flat. We know this because the coverup is described in dozens, if not hundreds, of YouTube videos. We have listened to podcasts like Flat Earth Conspiracy and The Flat Earth Podcast that dissect the finer points of many flat-Earth models, and the wackiness of the debate suggests that the overall hypothesis is as sound and legitimate as any other scientific theory. We know this because, on a clear, chilly day, it is occasionally possible to view the Chicago skyline from southern Michigan, which would be impossible if Earth were bent.
We know because Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving told us so in February. He stated, “The Earth is flat.” “It is right there in front of us.” It is right in front of our eyes, I am telling you. “Take a look about you,” Darryle Marble, the conference’s first featured speaker, advised the audience.
The most disconcerting aspect of spending two days at a meeting of individuals who believe the Earth is flat is not the potential that you, too, will come to adopt their worldview, though I was concerned about that. Rather, it is the very real possibility that after sitting through hours of lectures on “scientism,” lightning angels, and NASA’s various conspiracies—the moon-landing hoax, the International Fake Station, and so-called satellites—and speaking with I.T. professionals, cops, college students, and stylishly dressed families with small children, all of whom are always serious and gorgeous, you may come to realise why an increasing number of people are dying Because the truth is frightening.
The November conference was held in the Embassy Suites near the Raleigh airport, in a dimly lit ballroom. Several rows of seats had been put up, and virtually all of them had been filled. A young couple with a stroller sat intently to my right, while a man in front of me wore a T-shirt with the words “They Lied” across the back. Marble described his revelation onstage. Marble is black, and he was one of the few persons of colour in the room. After 9/11, he volunteered in the Army and deployed to Iraq; upon his return to Arkansas, he “got into this entire conspiracy thing,” he added.
Marble and his girlfriend drank YouTube for two years. He explained, “We moved from one thing to another—Sandy Hook, 9/11, false flags.” “We were introduced to Bilderberg, Rothschilds, and the Illuminati.” When you get on here, you wind up looking into all these broad subjects because you watch one video and then another recommendation shows up along the same lines.” He finally had to take a step back.
In his YouTube sidebar, Marble discovered the light. He stumbled and found “Under the Dome,” a two-hour film that takes the style of a documentary, by Mark K. Sargent, one of the major flat-Earth proselytisers, while searching for films linked to “Under the Dome,” a TV sci-fi drama. (Those movies and more are accessible for ten bucks a month on Sargent’s Web site.) Marble watched it over and over all weekend, describing it as “a Reader’s Digest version” of the flat-Earth idea.