RAF flypast tribute marks 100 years since birth of speed legend Donald Campbell

  • Video report by Matthew Taylor.

Today marks what would have been the 100th birthday of speed legend Donald Campbell.

Two Royal Air Force jets carried out a flypast over Coniston Water where Campbell broke several speed records and where he eventually came to his end.

His daughter, Gina, also laid a bunch of flowers on the lake to pay tribute to her late father. She told ITV Border: "I just think my father left his mark on everybody here in this village. You talk about Donald Campbell, and Bluebird and Coniston; the three are intrinsically linked.

His daughter Gina laid flowers in his memory. Credit: PA

"My father lays in the graveyard here [Coniston], his greatest achievements are here on this fabulous piece of water, and here we are, 100 years on since the day he was born, celebrating his birth.

"I think we should not look back on at his death, but on his achievements and look at the mark he left for all of us to enjoy."

Donald Campbell was killed when his hydroplane, the Bluebird, flipped as as he tried to break his own world water speed record in 1967. 

Ft/Lt Eddie Craig, who led the flypast from 4 AC Squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey, said: "It is a huge honour to continue the RAF tradition of paying tribute to Donald Campbell and celebrate not only his achievements but also his spirit of courage and determination.

"Our top speed as we flew up Coniston Water was 480mph which we hope Donald would have approved of."

Donald Campbell on his Bluebird K7 at Lake Coniston. Credit: PA

The hydroplane's wreckage was recovered in 2001 by North Shields-based engineer Bill Smith who has worked on restoring it with a team of volunteers as part of the Bluebird Project.

In August 2018, Bluebird - fitted with a new jet engine - hit speeds of around 150mph during successful tests and crew training on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

The Bluebird Project says it wants to return to Bute for a second crew training exercise ahead of a future homecoming at Coniston Water.

Campbell broke eight world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s.

In his fatal record attempt, the son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, who himself held land and water speed records, had set himself a target of reaching 300mph(480kph) on Coniston Water.