Los Angeles (AP) - The self-proclaimed “world's best gambler” Mike Hughes died on Saturday on a flight with a homemade rocket, according to US media reports.
The 64-year-old, also known as "Mad Mike", wanted to reach an altitude of 5000 feet (around 1,500 meters), as reported by the Los Angeles Times, citing Hughes' spokesman. But the aircraft crashed to the ground near Barstow, California, just a few hundred meters from the launch pad.
The disaster happened in front of running cameras because the science channel wanted to film the flight for a new series called "Homemade Astronauts". This launch was always Hughes' dream, it said in a statement on the TV channel. A video released by CBS shows the rocket rocketing up the sky and losing the parachute it should have landed with later.
Hughes has been attracting a lot of attention in the United States for decades with his breakneck stunts. In autumn 2002 he managed to jump more than 30 meters in a three-ton stretch limousine. The action brought Hughes an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Most recently, he made several flight attempts with rockets. In spring 2018 it reached an altitude of 1900 feet (580 meters) and then landed in the Mojave Desert.
According to the Science Channel, Hughes planned to ascend to 62 miles (100 kilometers) one day - that is where many scientists define space.