THE pilot who died in a helicopter crash in central London had been diverted because of bad weather before his aircraft clipped a crane and then plunged to the ground, an inquest was told yesterday.
Former North East pilot Pete Barnes, 50, died from multiple injuries after the helicopter he was flying hit a high-rise crane on The Tower at St George Wharf, Vauxhall, and crashed into Wandsworth Road.
Mr Barnes, a father of two, had been flying from Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey to Elstree in Hertfordshire, but was diverted to Battersea heliport due to the bad weather, Southwark Coroner’s Court heard.
He was flying a twin-engine Augusta- Westland 109 helicopter.
Police, the fire brigade and the HEMS air ambulance all attended the scene, and Mr Barnes was pronounced dead by the HEMS doctor, London Inner South Coroner Andrew Harris heard.
Dr Harris said he would review the case in three months and did not set a date for a future hearing.
The veteran pilot, who had 25 years’ experience, including spells with the Great North Air Ambulance and Metro Radio in Newcastle, had flown in several films during his career, including Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.
Mr Barnes, who was living in Berkshire, has been described as “a good guy” who was “full of life and great fun”.
Pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, Surrey, was also killed in the tragedy as he walked to work.
He died from severe burns and a leg injury, a post-mortem examination revealed last week.
Meanwhile, ministers have denied that helicopter operations over London were “unsafe” after last week’s crash.
Transport spokesman Earl Attlee told the Lords at question time that helicopter operations in the capital were “strictly controlled”.
“We are waiting for the air accident investigation branch to complete their investigation to ensure the reasons for the accident are understood before we consider whether any further measures are necessary,” Lord Attlee said.
“There is no reason to believe that helicopter operations over London are unsafe.”