‘Nothing to prove’, as Bluebird hits ‘only’ 150mph on test outing

The restored Bluebird K7, which crashed killing Donald Campbell in 1967, takes to the water for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland.
The restored Bluebird K7, which crashed killing Donald Campbell in 1967, takes to the water for the first time in more than 50 years off the Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland.

IT was doing more than 300mph when it flipped into the air and disintegrated – killing its pilot, Donald Campbell.

Back in the water for a test run after years of restoration, Bluebird K7 topped out at around half that. But, said the project leader, it had nothing left to prove.

Campbell died on Coniston Water in the Lake District in January 1967, as he attempted to break his own water speed record of 276mph. He was 45.

Recovered from the lake in 2001 and fitted with a new jet engine, his hydroplane has been undergoing tests at speed on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute.

Asked if any world record speed attempts were planned, Bill Smith, the new man in charge, 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.”

The expectation, said Mr Smith, had been nothing more than to see what Bluebird could still do. “It’s a wallowing, ponderous blue whale. When she says go, she she’s a pretty violent machine.”

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

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

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