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Crash pilot was 'one of the best'

The pilot who died in the dramatic central London helicopter crash worked on Hollywood films and has been described as a hero and "one of the best" by former colleagues.

Pete Barnes had more than 10,000 hours flying experience and piloted helicopters in films including 007 movie Die Another Day, Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.

According to a broadcaster at Metro Radio, where Mr Barnes once flew their "eye in the sky" traffic report helicopter, he could have auditioned to be James Bond.

Alan Robson, who flew with the "handsome" pilot when they worked on a Tyne Tees TV show, said: "He was a stylish, lovely guy. He could have auditioned for James Bond.

"He was handsome, the girls melted. He walked it and he talked it.

"He was a genuinely lovely guy. I am absolutely gutted."

The presenter said Mr Barnes's feats of derring-do made him want to wet himself when he sat alongside him, and said "maybe he was never going to go out quietly".

"Yes, he would do things that looked dramatic but only if he knew it was safe for the people he was carrying," said Robson.

Jolyon Palmer, a budding British motor-racing driver, said his life was saved by Mr Barnes after a quad bike accident in 2007 and described his death as "extremely sad news".

UK HEMS, the charitable collaboration of UK helicopter air ambulance services, said Mr Barnes was a "hugely skilled and experienced" pilot - he had 3,500 hours on the type of craft he was piloting.


From Belfast Telegraph