Bluebird lands on Bute today

Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7 is about to take to the water once again, right here on Bute.
Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7 is about to take to the water once again, right here on Bute.

Donald Campbell’s iconic Bluebird K7 hydroplane is due to arrive on Bute today (Friday) for a series of tests at Loch Fad.

The Bluebird team is expected to arrive at 6.20pm on the 5.45pm ferry from Wemyss Bay, to a welcome ceremony which will include Rothesay Pipe Band and local children. Some of the Bluebird team will be wearing pink as a respectful gesture, not only to Alesha MacPhail’s family (and worn with the family’s consent) but also as a tribute to the island at this sad and difficult time.

It has taken 17 painstaking years and a small army of dedicated volunteers to restore Bluebird to her former glory. From August 4-10 and 13-16, this iconic craft will be undertaking crew training at Loch Fad, as Bluebird’s team work out how best to handle a craft which can reach speeds of up to 276 miles per hour.

Its appearance is expected to attract many visitors to the island.

Bill Smith, the project leader, said: “Loch Fad is perfect for this crew-training exercise.

“It’s just long enough for Bluebird to get moving and just deep enough that it won’t be too difficult for divers to retrieve any dropped tools!

“It’s pretty exciting for us right now because we’ve just ground-tested Bluebird and all her systems are running beautifully.

“When she’s put in the water at Loch Fad this week, it will be the first time in 50 years that Bluebird’s engine will be started while afloat.”

It’s been over half a century since Donald Campbell became the only person to hold both the world land and water speed records simultaneously, the latter set in his jet-engined hydroplane, Bluebird K7, which crashed tragically on Coniston Water on January 4, 1967.

As well as the training days at Loch Fad, Bluebird will appear at Bute Highland Games on August 11 and at Mount Stuart House on August 12, 12-4pm, with some of the team on hand to answer questions on both days.