The name of the cars and boats in which father and son Sir Malcolm Campbell and Donald Campbell have set the world records for speed on land and on water.

Malcolm Campbell took the name for his car after seeing Maeterlinck's play The Bluebird. He exceeded 300 mph on 3 September 1935

Donald Campbell died in his Bluebird K7 on 4 January 1967, on Coniston Water in Cumberland, at the age of 46. The Bluebird has just been rediscovered by divers and filmed by a BBC crew; it was raised on 8 March 2001.

He reached over 300 mph on his first pass, then turned around, but he had not waited for his wake to settle. The Bluebird hit it and somersaulted catastrophically.

Bluebird Electric is the name of a modern British contender for the land speed record for electric cars, driven by Donald's nephew Don Wales.

Bluebird days are the skier's holy days. When snow stops, the clouds part, and the sun shines. Not contrived upon a calendar, bluebird days are bestowed by god's divine plan. For the casual skiier bluebird is a pleasantry, a lucky fringe benefit of a good year; vacations can not be planned around bluebird. For the veteran, bluebird is an elusive but desperately sought powder fix. It is a fickle beast that can only be tamed by a private jet and the national weather service.

Ideal Conditions

Bluebird conditions are fleeting. The powder experience usually happens during a massive storm. Once the sun comes out, two things happen:

  1. At a ski resort, the slavering hordes quickly track out the entire mountain.
  2. The snow begins to set, losing its fluff and becoming soggy, crusty or stiff. At high elevation the sun is powerful and this can happen even at low temperatures.

So, in general, bluebird is a term reserved for the actual day it stops snowing. In the backcountry this time period may be extended by a few days, but generally no more than that. Sometimes it remains cloudy until prime conditions have passed. Sometimes the snow will be windblown and choppy. But on the perfect bluebird day everything comes together: deep snow, bright sun, low wind, and an unspoiled panorama opening up beneath you.

The birds started with my Dad, he kept them first. He wasn't like me with the birds though, he only got them out occasionally and he only got a couple out at a time. Sometimes at a dinner party he'd get one out and show it to the guests, a Yellowhammer or a Green Woodpecker - something to impress or interest them.

I remember some days we'd go walking with the bigger ones, the ones which needed flying. We flew them across the damp beaches and the windy meadows near us. You couldn't talk to my dad when we flew the birds. He let them soar in the sky and they had to take up most of his attention. I found it hard to see what he was thinking right then, but sometimes you caught the smile on his face, so perhaps it was a happy time.

There were some birds he only got out in private. There was a time once when I caught him out with one. I was only little, but I was feeling anxious about something. When I felt anxious about stuff, lying in bed, my legs would ache, and I'd have to go downstairs to find some distraction. Usually I'd go down to watch some TV or get some water.

I remember clearly creeping down the last little flight of stairs, the one which turned a corner, in my pyjamas, in the dark. I heard soft music coming from the living room. I thought maybe someone had left the TV on or something. I went over and opened the door. It was warm and dimly-lit and sitting on the red sofa, facing the wooden coffee table, I saw my Dad. A glass of red wine was placed on the table, just a little of it drank. He had his hands cupped in a little goblet shape and sitting in his palms was a tiny shivering bluebird - and it's what was making the music I'd heard.

My Dad had his eyes fixed on it but he was staring right past it. His eyes were very wet but he wasn't crying. He couldn't do anything either. Even when he looked up and saw me and smiled, I could tell the bluebird had him and there was nothing he or I could do. The folds in the skin on his hands looked so awkward and old in comparison to the delicate blue feathers of the bird. I hated to see him so disabled. As a child I needed him. Even at that age I knew what this was, so I didn't ask. I went back up to bed and sat and listened to the music sang by the bluebird. It really was beautiful, sad and beautiful. That tiny little bird seemed so powerful. It wasn't sinister, but it wasn't harmless. I lay down with my head on my pillow and I plotted against it.

Blue"bird` (?), n. Zool.

A small song bird (Sialia sialis), very common in the United States, and, in the north, one of the earliest to arrive in spring. The male is blue, with the breast reddish. It is related to the European robin.

Pairy bluebird Zool., a brilliant Indian or East Indian bird of the genus Irena, of several species.


© Webster 1913.

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