29th September 1952

John Cobb killed in Loch Ness record attempt

Racing driver John Cobb was killed on Loch Ness when attempting to set a water speed record. He had already set the land speed record in 1928, 1939 and 1947, so an attempt at the water speed record, five years later, must have seemed a logical next step, as it would allow him to hold the two records – water and land – simultaneously.

Cobb had been practicing for six on Loch Ness in a jet-powered boat called Crusader before he made his fateful attempt at the record. Then on the afternoon of 29 September, after taking the craft up to 206mph, he hit a wake in the otherwise flat water. The craft tilted down, its nose went under the water, and it disintegrated. Cobb was killed instantly, and the pieces of his boat sank to the bottom of the Loch.

Wreckage found

The remains of the boat were located in 2002 and later designated a Scheduled Monument by Historic Environment Scotland. It explained the scheduling on the basis that “the monument is of national importance as the remains of the speedboat ‘Crusader’. The monument is unique as an example of the efforts of mid-twentieth century record-breaking attempts in Scotland, and also has the potential to contribute to our understand of the broader history of Loch Ness. Cobb’s death in this attempt is a part of the national consciousness”.

Although the cause of the wake is unknown, some who believe in the Loch Ness Monster have claimed that it was to blame.

By reaching 206mph, Cobb had exceeded the existing water speed record – which then stood at 178mph – but, as he was unable to repeat the run, it didn’t count, and the previous record, set by Stanley Sayres, remained unbroken.



Other events that occured in September

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.