The pilot who died after his helicopter crashed in Vauxhall, London, was one of the country's most experienced pilots, having flown choppers in Hollywood movies and ferried politicians and celebrities around the UK.

Pete Barnes, 50, worked for "boutique" helicopter company Rotormotion and died after trying to divert the aircraft due to bad weather.

The helicopter spun out of control and crash-landed after clipping a crane on top of one of Europe's tallest residential towers. Another person died and several others were injured in the incident.

pete barnes

Captains Pete Barnes and Philip Louis Amadeus of Rotormotion

Rotormotion said many clients personally requested Mr Barnes both for his piloting skills and "his relaxed charming manner."

The company counts David Cameron, the Dalai Lama and Simon Cowell among its regular passengers.

The experienced aviator had flown helicopters for over 20 years and had more than 9,000 hours experience in the air, according to the company.

pete barnes

Pete Barnes was one of the UK's best pilots

In 2004, Mr Barnes carried out a daring rescue of a motorist from a flooded ford in County Durham while working for the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA).

The paramedic who flew with him on that mission, Kevin Hodgson, said he was one of the best pilots he had ever flown with.

Mr Barnes had to hover just a foot above the car, holding the helicopter steady as Hodgson lowered himself onto the roof.

After the rescue he told the Journal: He said: "It wasn't a run of the mill rescue. Some quick decisions had to be made and the timing was crucial, but fortunately everything went like clockwork.

"I've worked on some action movies in my time, but Kevin is a real hero climbing onto the roof of that car - although what the man was doing trying to go across Stanhope Ford, God only knows."


NEASU (Durham)
RIP Captain Pete Barnes. Had the pleasure of knowing him when he flew for the at Blyth a long time ago. A true gentleman

Hodgson, now director of operations at the GNAA, worked alongside Mr Barnes on life-saving missions for several years.

"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," he said.

"Over the years he will have flown on dozens of missions, no doubt saving lives along the way. Everyone at the charity is deeply saddened at this news. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the tragedy."


Ben Moore
“@JolyonPalmer: Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes helped save my life in 2007 after I had a serious quad bike accident. Extremely sad news today”

Mr Barnes stopped working with the charity about four years ago.

Recently, he had been flying the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA).

Andy Williamson, chief executive of the WNAA, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Pete Barnes was killed in the helicopter accident in London this morning.


Emma Scott
I used to work with Pete Barnes, the pilot who crashed today. He has kids the same age as mine. Gutted for him and his family and friends:-(

"Pete had worked with us for many years and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and with all the families affected by this tragedy."

He had also previously owned a company called 'Helivision' and among his piloting credits were many high-octane movies including James Bond ‘Die Another Day’, ‘Tomb Raider II’, Saving Private Ryan.

vauxhall

Flaming wreckage after the crash

He also took part in BBC show Coast and was employed by the London Olympics over the summer. He had also been employed as a helicopter pilot for Sky News.

He also flew the Newcastle Traffic & Travel helicopter as the Voice of Metro FM and worked as a helicopter instructor.


Simon Conway
Gutted to hear that the helicopter pilot who was killed in London this morning was Metro Radio's original Starburst 1 pilot, Pete Barnes.

Having flown a helicopter for the Great North Air Ambulance, he was handed a bravery award for his outstanding courage in a rescue, reported The Daily Telegraph.

vauxhall crash

The helicopter was seen cartwheeling to the ground during rush hour

Captain Philip Amadeus, managing director of RotorMotion, an executive helicopter charter business, said the aircraft was on a commercial flight from Redhill, in Surrey, to Elstree.


Andy Walker
Just spoken to a "shell-shocked" operations director Kevin Hodgson, who paid warm tribute to his friend, pilot Pete Barnes.

He said: "Our main priority now is for the family of the pilot and we extend our greatest sympathy to the friends and relatives of those who have died and been injured."

London mayor, Boris Johnson, paid tribute at a press conference at near the site of the crash. As well as offering condolences to the families of those who died he also praised the response of the emergency services.

He said: "It is immensely reassuring that the ambulance, fire and police were able to get to the scene so fast."

A tribute was paid on the Twitter account of the Northumbria and Durham Police helicopter account, referring to his time working for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

It said: "RIP Captain Pete Barnes. Had the pleasure of knowing him when he flew for the @GNairambulance at Blyth a long time ago. A true gentleman.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."

Tributes are pouring in for the respected pilot.


johnmc72
Sad to hear the pilot in today's helicopter crash was Pete Barnes. I've flown with him and he was a gent and a top pilot.


Mike Smith
Pete Barnes. Air ambulance, filming, immense pilot. Enjoyed our teas & chats. Rest not in peace, but fly with your new wings.


Daniel Owens
A former colleague of Pete Barnes, who still flew with the county air ambulance, described him as 'a great bloke who helped save many lives'

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  • Pete Barnes, the pilot who died after his helicopter crashed in Vauxhall, London was one of the country's most experienced pilots, having flown choppers in Hollywood movies and ferried politicians and celebrities around the UK. Pete Barnes, 50, worked fo

    Pete Barnes, the pilot who died after his helicopter crashed in Vauxhall, London was one of the country's most experienced pilots, having flown choppers in Hollywood movies and ferried politicians and celebrities around the UK. Pete Barnes, 50, worked for "boutique" helicopter company Rotormotion and died after trying to divert the aircraft due to bad weather.

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Debris and a burned out car are pictured at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Debris (R) is pictured beside a fire fighting vehicle at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Debris and a burntout car are pictured at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Thames River police patrol after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. Two people died and nine casualties have been confirmed with one in a critical condition. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Debris and a burned out car are pictured at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Members of the emergency services prepare a stretcher as they attend to the scene of a helicopter crash in London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    The scene after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • BRITAIN-AVIATION-ACCIDENT

    Debris and a burned out car are pictured at the scene of a helicopter in central London, on January 16, 2013. Two people were killed when a helicopter hit a crane at a building site in central London and plunged to the ground on Wednesday, police said. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    The scene after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Police close off the junction of Parry Street and Wandsworth Road, after a helicopter crashed into the Crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in heavy freezing mist in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • (Credit: Twitter/craiglet)

  • (Credit: YouTube/niczerogoeshome)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A general view of the scene shortly after a helicopter crashed in the Vauxhall area of central London, after hitting a crane on top of a tower block by the River Thames, according to eye witness reports, Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. (AP Photo / Toby Scott, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • (Credit: YouTube/niczerogoeshome)

  • (Credit: YouTube/niczerogoeshome)

  • LondonFire London Fire Brigade 12m Pic from the scene of the #helicopter crash in #vauxhall. We were called at 8am and we put the fire out within 20mins.

    LondonFire London Fire Brigade 12m Pic from the scene of the #helicopter crash in #vauxhall. We were called at 8am and we put the fire out within 20mins.

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • (Credit: Twitter/sevitz)

  • (Credit: Twitter/Louisp55)

  • (Credit: Twitter/JakeyyL)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • (Credit: Twitter/ColinDKavanagh)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • At the scene of the crash on Corner of miles st and Wandsworth road #vauxhall #helicoptercrash

    Jessica Elgot @jessicaelgot At the scene of the crash on Corner of miles st and Wandsworth road #vauxhall #helicoptercrash pic.twitter.com/6d1nCCJe

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

    Helicopter Crashes in Central London Credit Victor Jimenez

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A group of firefighters examine the scene from an extendable ladder high above Wandsworth Road, after a helicopter crashed into the crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A section of the Crane lays in Nine Elms Lane, after crashing to the ground close to St George's Wharf tower building, where a Helicopter crashed into this morning, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Emergency services at the scene after a helicopter reportedly collided with a crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A section of the Crane lays in Nine Elms Lane, after crashing to the ground close to St George's Wharf tower building, where a Helicopter crashed into this morning, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Emergency services at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A section of the crane lays in Nine Elms Lane, after crashing to the ground close to St George's Wharf tower building, where a helicopter crashed into this morning, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Police close off the junction of Parry Street and Wandsworth Road, after a helicopter crashed into the Crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in heavy freezing mist in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Fog surrounds a damaged crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower after a helicopter reportedly collided with it, in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A general view of the damaged crane on top of St Georges Tower close to the scene where a helicopter crashed in central London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A general view of the damaged crane on top of St Georges Tower close to the scene where a helicopter crashed in central London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A general view of the damaged crane on top of St Georges Tower close to the scene where a helicopter crashed in central London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Emergency services at the scene of a helicopter crash in central London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Police close off the Vauxhall Cross intersection, after a Helicopter crashed into a construction Crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    Police close off the Vauxhall Cross intersection, after a Helicopter crashed into a construction Crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A small part of the emergency services on the scene at Vauxhall Cross intersection, after a Helicopter crashed into a construction Crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in Vauxhall south London.

  • Helicopter Crashes in Vauxhall, South London

    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: A police officer stands outside a residential bliock near to the scene where a helicopter crashed in Vauxhall, on January 16, 2013 in London, England. According to reports, the helicopter hit the crane attached to St Georges Wharf Tower before plunging into the road below during the morning rush hour. Two people died and nine casualties have been confirmed with one in a critical condition. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Helicopter crash in London

    A section of the crane (top left) lays in Nine Elms Lane, after crashing to the ground close to St George's Wharf tower building, where a Helicopter crashed into this morning, in Vauxhall south London.