Crash pilot, 50, was one of UK's most experienced aviators and had more than 10,000 hours of air time with client list including Lewis Hamilton
- Pete Barnes had racked up 10,500 flying miles over 25-year career
- Worked on Bond hit Die Another Day and other Hollywood blockbusters
- Flew helicopter into crane on top of luxury skyscraper in central London
- Had worked for air ambulance services across the country
The helicopter pilot also killed in the crash had flown stunts in a James Bond film.
Pilot Pete Barnes appeared in Die Another Day and had clocked up 10,000 hours of flying as an ‘aerial chauffeur’ ferrying celebrities, sports stars and world leaders around Europe.
He has been pictured with stars such as Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Pierce Brosnan, who played James Bond in Die Another Day, one of the films which Mr Barnes worked on.
Mr Barnes was flying alone from Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey to Elstree, Hertfordshire to pick up a client when he had his fatal accident, which killed one other person and injured 12.
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Celebrity: Pete Barnes pictured with Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, one of his many well-known clients
Mr Barnes, 50, had worked as a pilot for police and air ambulance services and had been praised for his ‘courage and skill’ during the dramatic rescue of a motorist from a flooded ford.
But his extensive experience could not prevent yesterday’s tragedy, which also killed Matt Wood, 39, during morning rush-hour.
Mr Barnes was born in Nottingham in 1962, and went to public school Oakham followed by the University of Derby, where he studied business and marketing.
After graduating he worked as a ski instructor, then went into the advertising industry.
In 1989, he moved to Florida and gained a commercial helicopter licence, spending three years as a pilot on the East Coast of the U.S.
Experience: Pete Barnes, 50, had racked up 10,500 miles of flying time over 25 years
When he returned to the UK he continued his flying career, joining Surrey-based RotorMotion in 1997.
He had flown more than 16 different types of helicopter and six aeroplane types, according to his own website.
Mr Barnes worked as a freelance pilot for RotorMotion and other hire companies, flying air ambulances and working on television and film sets. He also ran his own business, Helivision, based at his home in Goddards Green, Berkshire.
He helped rescue a motorist from a flooded ford in 2004 while working for the Great North Air Ambulance.
The paramedic who flew with him on that mission said he was one of the best pilots he had ever worked with.
Kevin Hodgson, now director of operations at the Great North Air Ambulance, served 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.'
He also flew the Newcastle Traffic & Travel helicopter as the Voice of Metro FM and worked as a helicopter instructor.
The experienced pilot spoke of the thrilling variety of his work in a 2006 interview with the North West Evening Mail, as he started flying for the Cumbria Air Ambulance.
Death: Mr Barnes was a veteran pilot who flew air ambulances for many years
Showbiz: The pilot with Pierce Brosnan after he worked on Bond hit Die Another Day
He said: 'One minute you’re flying paramedics to scenes of carnage and devastation, then you’re flying VIPs and doing corporate entertainment at Ascot, Silverstone and the world rally driving championships.'
'With the last Bond, I worked with Pierce Brosnan who is lovely, a very nice guy, and Halle Berry, who was equally nice if not more so.'
Alongside top stunt experts, Pete was responsible for meticulously co-ordinated stunts, such as a multiple abseil from a helicopter in Cody Banks 2.
He said: 'I had lines in the film, but they dubbed me with an American accent because mine was so appalling.'
As well as his film and TV work – which also included 55 Degrees North and gathering footage for Sky News – Pete acted as an aerial chauffeur, and was responsible for ferrying world leaders to and from the G8 conference in Scotland in 2005.
Jolyon Palmer, a racing car driver who competes in the Formula One feeder series GP2, said Mr Barnes saved his life in 2007.
He tweeted: 'Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes helped save my life in 2007 after I had a serious quad bike accident. Extremely sad news today.'
In his showbiz career, Mr Barnes worked on adverts, TV programmes and films such as Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
Other films which used his aircraft to help film aerial shots include Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.
He also filmed sporting events such as last summer's Olympics.
At the time of his death he was flying on behalf of RotorMotion, a company which counts among its clients the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron, former PM Tony Blair and the Dalai Lama.
On its website RotorMotion describes Mr Barnes, who had worked for them since 1997, as one of Britain's top aviators, with clients often requesting him for 'both his piloting skills and his relaxed, charming manner'.
Career: Mr Barnes worked as a freelance pilot for RotorMotion from 1997 up until his death
Hero: Mr Barnes in 2004, flying an air ambulance rescuing a motorist from floods in County Durham
It adds: 'He is one of the country's most experienced Agusta pilots and instructors, and has personally ferried 50 new machines from the factory in Milan to customers.'
In the past few years, he was based at the Redhill airfield where he took off from this morning, and worked for BBC and Sky News among his other clients.
Those who knew Mr Barnes took to social media to pay tribute to him after his death.
'Really shocked that the pilot killed this morning was Pete Barnes, our old Metro FM Starburst 1 helicopter pilot,' radio DJ Nicksy wrote. 'RIP Pete.'
Mike Smith, managing director of a helicopter filming company, tweeted: 'Pete Barnes. Air ambulance, filming, immense pilot. Enjoyed our teas & chats. Rest not in peace, but fly with your new wings.'
Debris: The wreckage of Mr Barnes's helicopter in Vauxhall, central London on Wednesday morning
Scene: The crash, which killed Mr Barnes and one other, drew dozens of emergency workers
John Horne, the chief executive of Redhill Aerodrome, said Mr Barnes was 'well-known and popular' at the facility.
'He was an excellent pilot, vastly experienced and this tragedy has hit everyone here hard,' he added.
'It's a shock because Peter was faultless as a pilot and had a justified reputation as one of the most reliable helicopter pilots in the country.'
A spokesman for RotorVision added: 'He was a reliable and experienced pilot and this is a huge tragedy.
'He had a perfect record and the aircraft he was flying in didn't have any recorded problems.'
A friend and colleague of Mr Barnes who did not want to be named said: 'Pete was a lovely guy, who didn't take himself too seriously.
'We go quite a long way back and everyone at the aerodrome knew him as a friendly, family man. He was also a bit of a joker. When we used to do jobs at Ascot he would dress up in black tie and tails.'
The Air Ambulance Service released a statement which said Pete Barnes would be greatly missed.
Andy Williamson, the Chief Executive, said: 'We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Pete Barnes was killed in the helicopter accident in London this morning.
'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.'
The Air Ambulance Service is an umbrella organisation for The Children's Air Ambulance, Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance.
Pete also worked for the Great North, Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent air ambulance services over his long and expansive career.
VIDEO Emergency Services investigation in place at crash site
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