BLUE­BIRD FLIES AGAIN

Boating NZ - - Boatworld -

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).

WORDS BY LAWRENCE SCHAFFLER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY BLUE­BIRD PROJECT

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