Hundreds Pay Tribute to Renowned Chopper Pilot
HUNDREDS of people filled Reading Minster Church yesterday to say goodbye to former Derbyshire air ambulance pilot Captain Pete Barnes.
He died last month when the helicopter he was flying collided with a crane at the top of The Tower, St George Wharf, in Vauxhall, London.
His coffin, covered with flowers, was carried in by his pilot friends before Canon Brian Shenton welcomed mourners, including Pete's partner, Rebecca Dixon, and his children, Alexandra and Freddy.
Paying tribute to his brother, Christopher Barnes said: "For Pete, flying wasn't just a vocation, it was a passion. He was charismatic, charming, infectious and he had an irrepressible mischievous smile. He had a wonderful way with everyone and that is why he was so loved."
The 50-year-old pilot, who lived in Mortimer, near Reading, had at least 10,000 hours of helicopter experience spanning more than 25 years of flying.
He worked for the police and air ambulances in Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire from 1997 to 2011, and spent time as a contract pilot for Hollywood films including James Bond, The Golden Compass and Saving Private Ryan.
The coffin was carried out by Pete's skiing friends to the sounds of "I Wanna Be Like You" from the Jungle Book. Outside, the congregation erupted into applause as the hearse drove off and a helicopter performed a flypast over the Minster.
The pilot was flying from Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey to Elstree, in Hertfordshire, but was diverted to Battersea heliport due to the bad weather when the accident happened last month. Pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, Surrey, was also killed in the incident.
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