View Full Version : 300 mph Bluebird jet boat returns to water 51 years after fatal crash

Serious News
08-09-2018, 01:07 PM
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.

Bluebird K7 on Coniston Water, Cumbria, 1958. Donald Campbell set a new world water speed record of 248.62mph on the 10th November 1958. (Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Campbell had already set eight land and water speed records when he attempted to break his own 276.3 mph water-speed record on Jan. 4, 1967 on Coniston Water in northwest 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 the 45-year-old Campbell.

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

Donald Campbell breaks the Water Speed Record in Bluebird K7 on Ullswater, 23rd July 1955. Campbell in the cockpit of Bluebird. He set a record of 202.15 mph (324 km/h), beating the previous record by some 24 mph (39 km/h) held by Stanley Sayres. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Human remains were found near the boat and confirmed by DNA testing as belonging to Campbell. In September 2001, his body was taken on a final boat trip around the lake where he died before being buried in a nearby churchyard.

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

Hydroplane Pilot Ted Walsh, left, Gina Campbell the daughter of pilot Donald Campbell and engineer Bill Smith pose for a photo with the restored Bluebird K7 before it takes to the water for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland, Saturday Aug. 4, 2018. The famed jet boat Bluebird has returned to the water for the first time since a 1967 crash that killed pilot Donald Campbell during a world speed-record attempt. Watched by Campbell's daughter Gina Campbell, the restored Bluebird was lowered Saturday into Loch Fad on Scotland's Isle of Bute, where it will undergo low-speed tests.(David Cheskin/PA via AP)

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.

She said she was "overwhelmed" by the occasion.

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

Serious News
08-09-2018, 06:06 PM
Bluebird has ‘nothing to prove’ following successful speed tests

Record-breaking hydroplane Bluebird has “nothing to prove” after being resurrected for speed tests 51 years after it crashed, killing pilot Donald Campbell, the project leader has said.

The Bluebird K7 has hit speeds of around 150mph during tests in Scotland but Bill Smith said any attempts to break speed records would be “incredibly foolish” given the boat’s history.

Campbell died aged 45 on Coniston Water in the Lake District in January 1967 when the boat, travelling at more than 300mph, flipped into the air and disintegrated as he attempted to beat his own water speed record.

The restored hydroplane, which was recovered from the lake in 2001, has been undergoing tests at speed on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute.

Asked if any world record speed attempts were planned, Mr Smith said: “That would be incredibly foolish.

“You saw what happened last time. This vessel had held the world water speed record seven times.

“It’s the most successful contender in history and, after a 300mph accident and 34 years of immersion, she’s back.

“Anything to prove? Nah.”

He has spent 22 years restoring the boat, which has a new jet engine, along with volunteers but said the history was not at the forefront of his mind when she re-entered the water for the first time in more than half a century at the weekend.

He said: “I just wanted to know that she wasn’t filling up with water and about to land on the bottom with her tail fin sticking above the surface.

“That’s all I wanted to see. I couldn’t wait to get it back out again.

“The expectation and plan was just to see how it was performing. For all it’s a wallowing, ponderous blue whale, when she says go she she’s a pretty violent machine.

“She looks pretty happy at that speed (150mph).”

He hinted that the historic boat could become a regular visitor to the island, once this month’s test runs are over.

“I’d come back and do it every year,” he said.

“It’s like going on holiday with my mates and bringing a boat along for a laugh.”

Spectators looked on as the hydroplane sped down the loch, following ear-splitting tests of the jet engine.

Lead pilot Ted Walsh endured the canopy bursting off at 150mph earlier in the week, which he wryly said was “pretty exciting”.

He said archive footage has enabled the team to mirror Campbell’s progress.

“It’s pretty interesting to see the boat is peforming in a pretty similar way to when Donald Campbell had it.”

Campbell’s body, with his race suit still intact, was pulled from the Cumbria lake along with the wreckage in 2001.

Having broken eight world speed records on water and land in the 1950s and 1960s, Campbell was attempting to break his own water speed record of 276mph when he was killed.