Tributes to tragic London helicopter crash pilot Pete Barnes who saved lives in Grimsby area
"THERE are people alive today in our area who owe their lives to his skills".
The words of a Grimsby air ambulance volunteer in tribute to the pilot killed in yesterday's helicopter tragedy in London.
Captain Pete Barnes, 50, flew the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance which came to the rescue of countless patients in emergencies.
The commercial helicopter he was flying yesterday collided with a crane on St George Wharf Tower, in Vauxhall, south-west London, just before 8am and plummeted into queuing traffic, killing another person on the ground, and injuring several more.
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He was the only one on board the Augusta helicopter, which exploded into flames as it hit the ground and smashed into two cars.
It was revealed Captain Barnes' helicopter had been diverted and was due to land in Battersea due to bad weather. It is thought he could not see the crane in the conditions.
Today, tributes were paid by friends at Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire air Ambulance.
Graham Dawson, the finance manager of the Trust which runs the charity, said: "Peter Barnes was a highly experienced freelance pilot who worked with many organisations, one of those organisations was Medical Aviation Services who provide the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust with our aircraft and pilots.
"Peter Barnes has flown with the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance in the past but not within the last two years."
Grimsby volunteer for the charity, Sandra Phipps, said: "It is such a tragedy. He gave several years' dedicated service.
"He will have flown on many of the 1,000 missions we fly each year and there will be people alive today in our area who owe their lives to his skills."
Captain Barnes was renowned as one of the country's foremost aviators, having flown 10,000 hours.
He served with Medical Aviation Services Ltd based at Staverton in Gloucestershire, and had flown a number of celebrities, including F1 star Lewis Hamilton.
He was born in Nottingham in 1962 and was working freelance for Rotormotion, which is based at Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey, and describes itself as offering executive helicopter chartering.
Colleagues described him as having a "relaxed and charming manner" and "one of the most experienced Augusta helicopter pilots in the country."
He has also flown helicopters in TV programmes, films and adverts, including James Bond movie Die Another Day, Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.