Pilot killed in London helicopter crash was movie stunt flyer and former police officer Pete Barnes

Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes, who was killed in a crash in central London
Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes, who was killed in a crash in central London
Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes, who was killed in a crash in central London
Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes, who was killed in a crash in central London

The helicopter pilot killed in the crash was today named as movie stunt flyer and former police officer Pete Barnes.

Pete, who worked for Surrey-based RotorMotion, started his aviation career around 25 years ago and had logged more than 10,500 flying hours.

Born in Nottingham in 1962 he was educated at the Oakham Independent school before going on to study business and marketing at the University of Derby.

After graduation he worked as a ski instructor across Europe before entering the advertising industry.

He moved to the United States in 1989 where he gained a commercial helicopter and instructor’s licence in Florida.

Working out of Fort Lauderdale, Captain Barnes flew a range of helicopters around Florida and the east coast of the United States.

The RotorMotion website says: ”Finishing his Business Studies Degree, Pete worked as a ski instructor and ski guide in Europe, later going into the Advertising Business.

”Fortunately, the helicopter bug bit and he moved to America for three years, earning his US Commercial and Instructors Licence flying R22, Jet Rangers and Bell 222s around Florida and the East Coast.

”Pete moved back to the UK and over the last 18 years has had a diverse career, Instructing, flying the ‘Newcastle Traffic & Travel’ helicopter as the ‘Voice of Metro FM’, flying the Air Ambulance and flying in many movies, TV programmes and adverts as both camera ship and action vehicle.

Experienced pilot Pete next to a helicopter earlier in his life
Experienced pilot Pete next to a helicopter earlier in his life

”These include: James Bond ‘Die Another Day’, ‘Tomb Raider II’, Saving Private Ryan and various Fastnets and Offshore Powerboat races.

”He is one of the countries most experienced Agusta pilots and instructor and has personally ferried 50 new machines from the factory in Milan to customers.

”He has flown as a freelance pilot for RotorMotion since 1997. We often get repeat business from clients, who request him for both his piloting skills and his relaxed charming manner.

”Now celebrating its 15th year of flying, RotorMotion is Britain’s favourite boutique helicopter charter business.

”We offer a personal, friendly and highly professional service, are staffed 24 hours a day and aim always to return a quote for your trip within an hour.”

The helicopter was registered to Castle Air but was being used by firm Rotor Motion.

Celebrities who have travelled with them include David Cameron and the Dalai Lama.

Run by Captain Philip Louis Amadeus the firm has been operating for 15 years.

In 2010 David Cameron narrowly escaped disaster after the landing gear handle of a helicopter he was travelling in came off in Captain Amadeus’s hand.

Faced with dwindling fuel and worried that an emergency landing would flip the helicopter, the quick-thinking pilot executed a low hover.

This enabled the four passengers, including Mr Cameron who had to jump three feet, and a fellow crew member, to jump to safety.

The pilot then managed to land the Augustahelicopter safely on a bed of car tyres quickly assembled by resourceful staff at Redhill Aerodrome, in Surrey.

Prominent helicopter expert Elfan Ap Rees paid tribute yesterday.

Mr Ap Rees, editor of Helicopter International, said: “It is unfortunate and very usual. It was a one in a million accident.

“Rotormotion in a well-used and very well-respected company, it is very reputable.

“The aircraft that was being flown is a very reliable machine as well.

“He was a very experienced pilot, the weather should not have been a problem.

“There are occasions when you start off with clear weather and soon find it is deteriorating.

“In impractical circumstances, the right thing to do is rather than pushing into the bad weather is divert and land as quick as possible.

“It is not hugely common for helicopters to be affected by bad weather, bearing in mind we have helicopters flying out over to the sea rigs.

“This has just been a tragic occurrence and my heart goes out to those involved.

“Helicopters have been over flying London for many years, right back to the 1960s, and this is an almost unique accident in all of that time so we cannot take anything from that.

“Flying over London is very highly regulated, the helicopter is a twin engine with an extensive safety record and the pilot, from what I can gather so far, was doing all the right things.

“It was just very unfortunate the crane was in the position it was and he caught it.

“If the rotorblades strikes like any kind of obstruction then yes it is going to result in an accident. It is no different to a car hitting the central reservation on a motorway, you are not going to keep going in a straight line.”


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