BBC Home
Explore the BBC
4 January  
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
About This Site | Text Only
1967: Campbell killed during record attempt
Donald Campbell has been killed a split second before breaking his own water speed record in his jet-powered boat, the Bluebird K7.

He was travelling at more than 300mph (483 km/h) on Coniston Water when the boat was catapulted 50ft (15m) into the air after its nose lifted.

Forty-six-year-old Mr Campbell was killed instantly as the boat hit the water and immediately disintegrated.

Donald was going into the unknown and he was well aware of the risks
Norman Buckley
He was just 200 yards (183m) from the end of the second leg of his attempt when the accident happened.

On the first leg he had reached speeds of 297mph (478km/h), which meant he had to top 308mph (496km/h) on the return journey.

Initial reports suggest he had actually reached speeds of up to 320mph (515km/h).

This means the water speed record of 276.33mph (444.61km/h), which Campbell himself set in Australia in 1964, remains unbroken as both legs of the attempt were not completed.

Had he broken this barrier it would have been his eighth world water speed record.

Divers have attempted to recover Mr Campbell's body which is submerged in more than 120ft (37m) of water, but as yet have been unable to locate him.

Norman Buckley, chief observer for the attempt and holder of five water speed records, said: "Donald wanted to put the record so high that it would be unassailable by any foreign competitor.

"I think conditions were as perfect as I have seen them on Coniston, but Donald was going into the unknown and he was well aware of the risks."

Mr Campbell's wife, Tonia Bern, flew to Coniston from London late this evening.

 E-mail this story to a friend


Watch/Listen
Bluebird leaving the water
Campbell was travelling at more than 300mph when Bluebird somersaulted in the air

Footage of Campbell's tragic record attempt


In Context
Donald Campbell's body was not recovered until 2001 - 34 years after his death.

On hearing the news that her father's body had been found, his daughter Gina said she was "totally relieved".

The boat and Mr Campbell's remains were recovered from the water and Mr Campbell was buried near Coniston water following a funeral service.

Two months later his daughter, herself a water speed champion, vowed to restore Bluebird in her father's memory.

Donald Campbell is still the only person to hold both land and water speed records at the same time.

And, although he is the last British man to break the world record, in 1978 it passed to Australia when Ken Warby reached a speed of 317.6mph (511.1km/h).

Stories From 4 Jan


 
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  

^^ back to top
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
©MMVIII | News Sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy