London helicopter crash pilot expressed concern over weather, inquest told

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The pilot of a helicopter which suffered a fatal crash in central London "wasn't looking forward" to the flight because of the weather conditions, his partner has said.

Pete Barnes, 50, died from multiple injuries after the helicopter he was flying hit a crane on The Tower at St George Wharf, Vauxhall, and plunged into Wandsworth Road on the morning of January 16 2013.

Pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, Surrey, was also killed as he walked to work. Twelve other people on the ground were injured in the crash.

Mr Barnes's long-term partner, Rebecca Dixon, told the inquest into the deaths of the two men that he had expressed concern about the forecast of freezing fog.

She said: "I was a little bit worried because he did seem a bit more... quite often he would get up and go and be happy, but he talked the day or so before the flight that he wasn't particularly looking forward to it and he didn't know if he would complete it because the forecast wasn't very good."

Ms Dixon added: "Freezing fog isn't a good outlook when you're flying."

Senior coroner Andrew Harris asked her: "Was he a man who took risks?"

She replied: "Within limits. He knew what he could and couldn't do. I wouldn't say he took adverse risks."

Mr Barnes, from Berkshire, had been flying for helicopter firm RotorMotion from Redhill Aerodrome, Surrey, to collect restaurateur Richard Caring in Elstree, Hertfordshire, but was diverted to London's Battersea heliport.

Ms Dixon told the jury of eight women and three men at Southwark Coroner's Court that her partner had a "good relationship" with Mr Caring because he included the pilot in leisure activities following flights.

"He was always polite, he was pleasant," she said. "It was fun because quite often once the flight was over he would shoot with them and have dinner with them.

"It wasn't as if he was on his own in a hotel room. He was included."

Ms Dixon told the hearing that Mr Dixon had been a pilot for 24 years, and had worked in a freelance capacity since 1997.

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