Speed ace died as his windscreen decapitated him
Published: Saturday 26 October 2002
THE final chapter in the life and death of Donald Campbell was written yesterday to reveal that the legendary speed ace was decapitated by Bluebird’s windscreen exploding at 300mph.
Campbell’s craft crashed on Coniston Water in 1967 as he attempted to better his own world record of 297mph.
Ironically, he succeeded, but only for the seconds before his apparent impatience to become the fastest man alive caused him to make a fatal error, an inquest into his death heard.
The inquest was set up following the recovery last year of Bluebird and Campbell’s remains from the Cumbrian lake.
It was held in a school classroom within sight of where Campbell died.
Details of Campbell’s “second” and fatal race for the record were described to the coroner, Ian Smith.
He heard that Campbell planned to make two attempts on the record hoping to achieve a speed of 328 mph on at least one of the “runs.”
The first run on the “mirror-like” surface went well.
But Campbell, a hero to Fifties schoolboys, who had eclipsed his father’s record-breaking exploits on land and water, turned too quickly into the second and encountered his own wake.
The disturbance caused the nose of Bluebird to rise.
The boat’s plastic windshield shattered and severed Campbell’s head, the coroner was told.
Mr Smith heard the most likely cause of the crash was a sudden “throttling back” at a critical time.
Neat looking thing, is it not?
Bummer, it ending as it did.