Air ambulance plans lasting memorial to fatal crash pilot

Darlington and Stockton Times: FATAL CRASH: Captain Pete Barnes FATAL CRASH: Captain Pete Barnes

CHARITY bosses are planning a permanent tribute to the former air ambulance pilot killed when his helicopter crashed in central London last week.

An inquest into the death of Peter Barnes, who flew countless missions with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), was opened and adjourned in London on Tuesday (January 22).

A GNAAS spokesman told The Northern Echo that charity bosses had held talks over a permanent memorial to Capt Barnes at its Durham Tees Valley Airport base.

No decision has yet been made on what form the tribute will take, he added.

Capt Barnes died of multiple injuries after the helicopter he was flying hit a high-rise crane and crashed into Wandsworth Road on Wednesday (January 16), the inquest was told.

Coroner Andrew Harris heard 50-year-old Capt Barnes, a father-of-two, had been flying from Redhill Aerodrome, in Surrey, to Elstree, in Hertfordshire.

He was attempting to divert his twin-engine Agusta Westland 109 helicopter to Battersea heliport due to the bad weather, Southwark Coroners Court heard.

Police, the fire brigade and the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (Hems) all attended the scene and Mr Barnes was pronounced dead by the Hems doctor, the coroner was told.

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, had flown as a stunt pilot in several films during his career including Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan.

The inquest also heard that Capt Barnes had been “fit and well” in the days before the crash and held a valid class one pilot’s licence.

Capt Barnes, from Berkshire, has been described as a 'good guy who was full of life and great fun'.

He was involved in a daring rescue at Stanhope Ford, in County Durham, in 2004, when he and GNAAS colleague Kevin Hodgson rescued a driver who had become trapped in flood water.

Pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, from Surrey, was also killed in last week's tragedy as he walked to work.

The coroner did not set a date for the opening of the inquest into Mr Wood's death.

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