A HIGHLY-RESPECTED pilot drowned while windsurfing off the Northumberland coast in severe weather conditions.
Daniel Silipo, captain for British Airways, died after becoming separated from his board off the coast of Blyth, last November.
The 44-year-old married father-of-three, who lived at Darras Hall, Ponteland, died as a result of an accident, North Northumberland coroner Tony Brown ruled at an inquest yesterday.
Mr Silipo, who the inquest heard was an experienced windsurfer, had gone out near Blyth harbour on November 7.
He got into trouble when he was separated from his board in what the coroner was told were severe weather conditions near Gloucester Lodge Farm, between Blyth’s South Beach and Seaton Sluice.
Members of the public reported seeing a windsurfer face down in the water and lifeboats from Cullercoats and Blyth, and a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer went to the scene.
Mr Silipo was airlifted to Wansbeck General Hospital at Ashington but was pronounced dead on arrival.
At yesterday’s inquest, Mr Brown said: “Mr Silipo, an experienced windsurfer, died as the result of drowning whilst surfing in severe weather conditions near Blyth Harbour on November 7, 2012.”
And the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Mr Silipo lived with wife Emma in Stonehaugh Way and had sons Jake and Josh and daughter Eva.
The former Ponteland High School pupil worked as a pilot for Global Supply Systems (GSS) in addition to British Airways.
Mr Silipo’s Twitter profile, on which he is pictured in windsurfing gear, reveals how he enjoyed the pastime as well as “ski-ing and all sports,” “all over”.
He had been on a Northumberland windsurfing forum on the morning he died and appeared to ask if anyone wanted to join him in the sea.
Mr Silipo wrote: “So, in the windsurfing Mecca that is the NE of England I’ll be at speed trench at Blyth or Seaton Sluice today with my GPS unit for speed runs – looking for the production board world record today.
“Depends on the wind direction when I get to the beach as u can’t beat Blyth for access to the sand but I don’t want to wallow around getting back in if it’s a dead westerly so maybe at Seaton Sluice.
“I have 2 isonic slalom boards if anyone wants to try one.”
A collection was taken at his funeral, and has continued online under the name The Daniel Silipo Forever by the Sea fund, for the RNLI which tried to save him.
The webpage, set up by Mrs Silipo, says: “Daniel’s love of the sea was with him always, whether he was windsurfing, water-ski-ing, surfing or sailing it is where he loved to be.
“Thank you for donating to the RNLI in his memory.”
A total of £3,122.06 has been collected so far.
Last night Mrs Silipo said: “It is tragic. He died doing something he loved.”
Tributes have been left on the fundraising page, including one from Joanne Jones, which reads: “Dan, you were such a great friend to all my family.
“You will be so, so missed. Rest in Peace.”
Another from Andrew Bell, reads: “Rest in peace Dan and may you always surf with the sun in your face.”
Tributes were paid to Mr Silipo shortly after his death by British Airways and users of internet forum The Professional Pilots Rumour Network.
A spokesperson for the airline said: “He was a highly respected and popular member of our pilot team.
“It is a very sad loss and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”