The pilot of a helicopter which crashed in central London was one of the country’s most experienced and had flown in films such as Die Another Day and Saving Private Ryan.
Pete Barnes was killed when the AgustaWestland 109 Power he was flying hit a crane on a high rise building in Vauxhall and plummeted to the ground.
Mr Barnes had amassed around 12,000 hours of flying time, including 3,500 hours in Agusta helicopters.
During his 18-year career as a pilot the 50-year-old had flown air ambulances and worked as a pilot on adverts and films such as James Bond’s Die Another Day, Saving Private Ryan and Tomb Raider II.
He had been working as a freelance pilot for Rotormotion , a company which counts among its clients the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron, former PM Tony Blair and the Dalai Lama.
In a statement the firm, which describes itself as a “boutique helicopter charter business”, paid tribute to Mr Barnes, referring to the crash as a “tragic accident”.
“Captain Peter Barnes, aged 50 from the Reading area, has been flying with RotorMotion since it was established over 15 years ago,” the company said.
“He was a very highly skilled pilot, one of the most experienced in the UK, with over 12,000 flying hours.
“We are devastated by the loss of a highly valued colleague and very dear friend. Our thoughts and condolences are with Peter’s wife and children.”
In 2004 Mr Barnes helped rescue a motorist from a flooded ford in County Durham while working for the Great North Air Ambulance.
Jolyon Palmer, a racing car driver who competes in the Formula One feeder GP2 series, said the pilot saved his life in 2007.
He tweeted: “Helicopter pilot Pete Barnes helped save my life in 2007 after I had a serious quad bike accident. Extremely sad news today.”
Mr Barnes also flew the Newcastle Traffic and Travel helicopter as the Voice of Metro FM and worked as a helicopter instructor.
Broadcaster Alan Robson of the Tyneside-based radio station said the pilot was a pioneer of “eye in the sky” traffic reports in this country.
Mr Robson, an award-winning radio host, also worked with Mr Barnes on TV shows, and said that while he would pull off daring manoeuvres, he was safety-conscious.
“He was a stylish, lovely guy. He could have auditioned for James Bond,” Mr Robson recalled.
“He was handsome, the girls melted. He walked it and he talked it.
“He was a genuinely lovely guy. I am absolutely gutted.”
Mr Barnes originally worked as a ski instructor and guide in Europe after completing a business studies degree, before going into advertising.
But he later moved to the US to train as a helicopter pilot, earning a US Commercial and Instructors Licence flying helicopters around Florida and the East Coast before moving back to the UK.