Pilot was a good guy, says brother

The pilot killed when a helicopter smashed into a crane in central London was “a good guy” who would have battled to save lives, his brother has said.

Chris Barnes, 55, paid tribute to his brother Pete, who was a veteran pilot with 25 years’ experience.

The 50-year-old, from Berkshire, died on Wednesday when the helicopter he was flying hit a high-rise crane yards from Vauxhall Station in central London at 8am.

Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, south London, was also killed as he was walking to work nearby. His sister said he was a “big guy with a big heart”, who doted on his godson, his brother Darren’s child.

Mr Barnes, who piloted helicopters for films such as Die Another Day, was alone in the aircraft amid thick cloud when it clipped the crane. The helicopter was on a commercial flight from Redhill, Surrey, to Elstree, Hertfordshire, but Mr Barnes asked to be diverted to Battersea heliport due to bad weather.

Chris Barnes, from Nottingham, said: “It’s a matter of instinct, it’s what pilots do. He had 25 years and 10,500 hours experience. He was very good at what he did. Our condolences go out to the family of the other man who was killed, that’s the last thing that my brother would have wanted to happen.”

Mr Wood’s sister Amanda, 31, said the last the family heard from him was when he sent a text to his brother on Wednesday morning to ask about his godson, who had been in hospital following a minor accident. His death came almost a year to the day after his father Brian died from leukaemia on January 21.

Ms Wood said: “When we were younger we used to argue and didn’t get on. But last year he told me how proud he would be if he were to walk me up the aisle.”

Close friend Lance Robertson, 37, said “everyone who came across him loved him”.

Twelve people were injured in the tragedy, but police said the number of casualties could have been much higher.