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London helicopter crash: Dead man was highly-skilled rescue and film pilot

Thursday, 17 January 2013 - 2:12pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
With 25 years experience and more than 12,000 flying hours logged, Captain Pete Barnes was one of the most experienced helicopter pilots in Britain.

With 25 years experience and more than 12,000 flying hours logged, Captain Pete Barnes was one of the most experienced helicopter pilots in Britain.

Whether performing rescues for the air ambulance service or operating as a stunt flier on Hollywood films, colleagues and friends paid tribute to his skill and professionalism.

Barnes, 50, was born in Nottingham and was married with two children. He gained a commercial helicopter and instructor's licence in Florida after moving to the United States in 1989.

In 1991, he returned to Britain and began working for Glenair Helicopters, helping to inspect power lines. He found his flying skills increasingly in demand for film and television and in 1999 set up Helivision Ltd. He worked on the Bond film Die Another Day; Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, and Tomb Raider II, starring Angelina Jolie. Television credits included the BBC programmes Coast and The One Show and Channel 4's Wanted.

Operating as a contract pilot, Capt Barnes spent several years working for the Great North Air Ambulance Service. In 2004, he won an award for outstanding courage and skill for his part in a river rescue. When a motorist became trapped in a swollen ford Capt Barnes hovered over the vehicle in a highly risky manoeuvre while a paramedic freed him.

Kevin Hodgson, who was working with him that day, said: "Pete was as good a guy as you can imagine and one of the best pilots I've ever had the pleasure of flying with. Everyone at the charity is deeply saddened at this news."

Jolyon Palmer, a racing driver, said on Twitter: "Pete Barnes helped save my life in 2007 after I had a serious quad bike accident. Extremely sad news today."

Such was Capt Barnes experience with the Agusta aircraft involved in yesterday's accident that he was often asked to deliver machines from the factory in Milan to new customers.

Much of his recent work involved transporting VIPs for the RotorMotion company, where his relaxed and charming manner was seen as invaluable in putting passengers at ease.

Capt Philip Amadeus, the managing director at RotorMotion, said Capt Barnes had been "very highly skilled". "We are devastated by the loss of a highly valued colleague and very dear friend."
 


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