SHE was just 17-years-old when the unmistakable blue hydroplane made its last, fatal journey.
Gina Campbell’s father Donald was killed in 1967 when his jet-powered craft flipped into the air at more than 300mph and disintegrated as he attempted to break his own water speed record.
Yesterday, 51 years later, she watched with tears in her eyes as Bluebird took to the water again at Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute.
With her was her father’s mascot, a teddy bear named Mr Whoppit, which was found floating in the wreckage scattered across Coniston Water, in the Lake District.
Bluebird was raised from the bed of the lake in 2001 and a team of volunteers, headed by engineer Bill Smith, have carried out painstaking restoration work since then.
Gina, a water speed record breaker herself, said: “Had I been asked if I thought this day would come a couple of years ago, my answer would have been no.
“But when you have a character like Bill Smith with his dogged determination, I have to ask why I ever doubted him.
“I can’t believe the watery eyes that have been floating around this loch this afternoon when this moment happened, mine included.”
The day had not been without its setbacks.
It took several attempts to ease the historic vessel into the water before she finally floated off.
Gina said she was not surprised that Bluebird had a number of failed attempts at floating before she finally entered the water, joking that the vessel never did anything easily.
She said: “When Bluebird is ready, when she gets over her attitude problems which she has plenty of, she does as she is asked. She doesn’t do it easily, she never has and never will.
“Years ago somebody told me this was the exactly the right thing to do.
“Any doubts and criticisms have all been answered in the last few moments – an iconic piece of history has just been reborn.”
Gina added that she felt right about the relaunch being in Bute, and was overwhelmed by the number of people who had turned out to watch the event and take pictures.
She said: “Bluebird has captured the inspiration of so many people, and it’s fabulous.
“It feels right that it’s happening here in Scotland. My father was so proud of his Scottish heritage. He always fluffed and puffed about his great great great grandfather who fought at the Battle of Culloden. I’m a great believer that things are meant to be and I think it’s very fitting to be here in Scotland today.”
Mr Campbell had been attempting to beat his record of 267mph when the accident happened, and he was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
He had followed in the footsteps of his father Sir Malcolm Campbell, who broke several land and water speed records in the 1920s and 30s.
Volunteers have worked to restore the boat to near its original state, but they said the engine had to be replaced. They have not restored the Union Flag on the tail fin.
The team will now begin crew training with a view to making full runs with a finished machine next year.