More than 51 years later, Blue­bird back

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Nation & World -

LON­DON — The famed jet boat Blue­bird re­turned to the wa­ter Satur­day for the first time since a 1967 crash that killed pi­lot Don­ald Camp­bell dur­ing a world speed-record at­tempt.

Watched by well-wish­ers in­clud­ing Camp­bell’s daugh­ter Gina Camp­bell, the sleek blue hy­droplane was low­ered into Loch Fad on Scot­land’s Isle of Bute, where it will un­dergo low-speed tests.

Camp­bell had set eight lan­dand wa­ter-speed records when he at­tempted to break his own 276.3-mph wa­ter-speed record Jan. 4, 1967, on Con­is­ton Wa­ter in north­west­ern Eng­land’s Lake Dis­trict.

The jet-pow­ered Blue­bird roared past 300 mph be­fore it vaulted into the air, flipped and crashed into the lake, break­ing in two and killing Camp­bell,

45.

It was 34 years be­fore divers man­aged to raise the Blue­bird’s wreck­age from the bot­tom of the 150-foot-deep lake in March 2001.

Hu­man re­mains were found near the boat and con­firmed by DNA test­ing as be­ing Camp­bell’s.

A team has been work­ing for 17 years to re­store the ves­sel and hopes to re­turn it to the Lake Dis­trict next year.

The plans to re­build the Blue­bird faced some op­po­si­tion but gained sup­port from Gina Camp­bell, who was 17 when her father died. On Satur­day, she held her father’s mas­cot: a stuffed bear named Mr. Whop­pit that was re­cov­ered from Con­is­ton Wa­ter af­ter the crash.

“I hope my dad’s look­ing down from above and telling every­body what a good job was done,” she told the BBC.

David Ch­e­skin / As­so­ci­ated Press

The re­stored jet boat is put into the wa­ter for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scot­land. It will ini­tially un­dergo low-speed tests.

Phil No­ble / As­so­ci­ated Press

Peo­ple watch as the wrecked Blue­bird is brought to shore at Con­is­ton Wa­ter in Eng­land’s Lake Dis­trict on March 8, 2001.

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