London helicopter pilot ‘could have been a James Bond’

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PILOT Pete Barnes, who died in yesterday’s crash, had more than 10,000 hours’ flying experience and piloted helicopters in films including the Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.

According to a broadcaster at Metro Radio, where Mr Barnes once flew its “eye in the sky” traffic report helicopter, he could have auditioned to be James Bond.

Alan Robson, who worked with Mr Barnes on a Tyne Tees TV show, said: “He was a stylish, lovely guy. He was handsome, the girls melted. He walked it and he talked it.”

During his 25 years as a pilot, Mr Barnes also carried out life-saving missions for air ambulances around Britain.

In 2004 he piloted the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA) in a daring rescue of a motorist from a flooded ford in County Durham. Kevin Hodgson, director of operations at the GNAA, said: Over the years he will have flown on dozens of missions, no doubt saving lives along the way.”

Jolyon Palmer, a budding British motor-racing driver, said his life was saved by Mr Barnes after a quad bike accident in 2007.