London helicopter crash: Pilot Pete Barnes was 'experienced and respected'

Contract pilot Pete Barnes died when his A109 Power helicopter hit a crane next to a high-rise building in Vauxhall at around 8.30am.

This is the first picture of the pilot killed in a helicopter crash in central London this morning.

Contract pilot Pete Barnes died when his A109 Power helicopter hit a crane next to a high-rise building in Vauxhall at around 8.30am.

The 'respected and experienced' pilot had been diverted from his course to Elstree, Hertfordshire, due to bad weather when the crash happened.

Mr Barnes, 50, who worked for Surrey-based RotorMotion, started his aviation career around 25 years ago and had logged more than 10,500 flying hours.

His career included working for companies with celebrity clients, and the former police officer had also worked on a string of Hollywood films during a long flying career.

Rotormotion said that Cpt Barnes flew for 'a number of TV programmes and films' as a camera ship and action vehicle, including 'Tomb Raider II', 'Saving Private Ryan', and James Bond's 'Die Another Day'.

Their website says: "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.

Respected: Cpt Barnes had clocked up over 10,000 flying hours (Rex)''Now celebrating its 15th year of flying, RotorMotion is Britain’s favourite boutique helicopter charter business."

A prominent helicopter expert said today the tragedy, which also claimed the life of a second person who was on the ground, was a 'one in a million accident'.

Mr Barnes's firm, Rotormotion, were described as a 'reputable and well-respected company'.

Mr Barnes also worked the Air Ambulance, who said this afternoon they were 'deeply saddened' by news of his death.

Mr Ap Rees, editor of Helicopter International, said: "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."

The scene after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane in central London