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The last words of Donald Campbell

The last words of Donald Campbell

Donald Malcolm Campbell (1921–1967), land and water speed record-holder, was the son of the racing motorist Sir Malcolm Campbell.

He was killed whilst attempting a new world water speed record on Coniston Water, England, in 1967. His boat Bluebird K7 was travelling at more than 300mph when it somersaulted backwards 50ft into the air. His final words were:

Hallo, the bow is up… I'm going… I'm on my back… I've gone. Oh.

Source: Part of a transcript of his last radio message, as his boat was crashing.

Background to Donald Campbell's last words

Campbell is the only person to have held both land and water speed records in the same year, a feat he achieved in 1964.

Despite his success and star status in the UK, many specialists in the field considered him to be overly concerned with maintaining the family tradition (his father had set 13 land and water world speed records) and of being too cavalier in his approach to safety.

Donald Campbell accidentThe preparation for the water speed record on Coniston had gone badly, but Campbell persisted with a record attempt and was killed on January 4th 1967.

An alternative transcription of the radio message he sent at the time has his last words as:

"I'm getting a lot of bloody row in here... I can't see anything... I'm going... Oh".

His body and the boat Bluebird K7 were recovered from the lake in 2001.