BLUEBIRD FLIES AGAIN
Fifty-one years after she flipped at 300mph (483kph) on Coniston Water in the Lake District, killing her driver Donald Campbell, the legendary jetpowered hydroplane Bluebird K7 has been restored and is back on the water.
Campbell, 45, was killed in 1967 attempting to break his own world water speed record of 276.33mph (442kph), set at Australia’s Lake Dumbleyung three years earlier. The fatal accident was recorded on film and in a few photographs – but much more haunting were his final words over the radio: “She’s tramping, the water’s not good…i can’t see much…i’m going…i’m on my back…i’m gone.”
The hydroplane’s wreckage lay 45m down for more than 30 years, until it was recovered in 2001 by engineer and diving enthusiast Bill Smith. He – and the rest of the Bluebird Project team – have been involved in the boat’s restoration ever since.
She was finally relaunched in August at Scotland’s Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute where, driven by professional hydroplane pilot Ted Walsh, she has reached speeds of 150mph (241.4kph).
Check out social media posts of the test run sat blue bird project@ bluebirdk 7.
Campbell followed in the footsteps of his father – Sir Malcolm Campbell – who first set a new land speed record in 1924, hitting 146.16mph (235kph). He set his final land record – 301.337mph (485kph) – at Bonneville Salt Flats in America.
Donald went on to break eight world speed records on water and land in the 1950 sand 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year. He was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. There are plans to return the restored
Bluebird to Coniston, where there is a museum displaying Campbell’s record-breaking career.
The current world water speed record is 318mph (511.8kph).