A HELICOPTER pilot who died today in a crash in central London that claimed the life of one other person and injured several others has been named by sources as Captain Peter Barnes.
Capt Barnes, who has piloted helicopters in action scenes in movies Die Another Day, Tomb Raider II and Saving Private Ryan, worked for flight operator RotorMotion.
He had previously been a pilot for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).
The YAA said: "The Yorkshire Air Ambulance were saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Capt Peter Barnes earlier this morning.
"Capt Barnes had previously flown with the YAA as one of our pilots a few years ago and was very well-respected among our crew and staff.
"Our thoughts and sincere sympathies are with the families of all those involved in today's tragic incident."
The helicopter Capt Barnes was piloting spun out of control and crash-landed near Vauxhall station after he attempted to divert the aircraft to a helipad due to bad weather.
The AgustaWestland 109 Power clipped a crane on top of one of Europe’s tallest residential towers, falling from the sky before exploding into flames and crashing into the streets below.
Captain Philip Amadeus, managing director of RotorMotion, an executive helicopter charter business, said the aircraft was on a commercial flight from Redhill, in Surrey, to Elstree.
He said: "Our main priority now is for the family of the pilot and we extend our greatest sympathy to the friends and relatives of those who have died and been injured."
Addressing a press conference near the scene of the incident, Commander Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "It was something of a miracle that this was not many, many times worse.''
It is understood the eight-seater aircraft was owned by Cornwall-based Castle Air but was leased to RotorMotion, which is based at Redhill Aerodrome.
Staff at Redhill Aerodrome confirmed it left the site at 7.35am amid low cloud cover and poor visibility, while the owner of London Heliport said he requested to land at one of its sites via Heathrow air traffic control.
But the Heliport never established contact with the pilot and shortly before 8am the aircraft crashed into the crane on top of The Tower in the St George Wharf development on the River Thames.
Witnesses described hearing a loud explosion as debris scattered across the sky and the helicopter plummeted to the ground, crashing near Wandsworth Road.