Yorkshire 999 pilot Pete Barnes interviewed in 2006

February 2006: A HELICOPTER rescue for anyone stranded in the wilds might seem dramatic enough, but in Yorkshire the man at the controls can often be found flying missions for the world’s most famous secret agent.

Movie fans may not know his name but will be familiar with the work of Yorkshire Air Ambulance pilot Pete Barnes, which includes the last James Bond film, Die Another Day.

Mr Barnes also flies other air ambulance helicopters, including the Great North, but this week is off on location to the Bahamas as filming starts for the next Bond film, Casino Royale, the first movie in the long-running franchise to star new 007 Daniel Craig.

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The self-employed pilot will be working in Nassau, before a stint in Europe later during the production, in the Czech capital of Prague, where filming is already underway.

This will be the latest in a long series of movie jobs on his CV, including the last James Bond outing by Pierce Brosnan.

Die Another Day entailed three weeks at Cadiz in Spain, co-incidentally flying the same model of helicopter used by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

The twin-engine MD902 Explorer has a top speed of 154mph and claims to be the quietest aircraft of its class.

A full tank of fuel will last it two hours and its design - with no tail rotor blade and higher main rotors and engine exhausts - makes it safer to work around.

For air ambulance purposes, in addition to a pilot and crew of two paramedics, the helicopter can carry a casualty on a stretcher and two other passengers, whether walking wounded or more medics.

“I’ve been doing movies for years, “ said Mr Barnes, 43.

“It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks - there’s a lot of hanging about and then suddenly you’re activated and you have to get on and do your stuff.”

Film work for his company, Helivision, is in addition to television show stunts - recent jobs include BBC detective drama 55 Degrees North - and piloting TV crews. In 2004 the company supplied 10 pilots, Mr Barnes among them, for coverage of the Athens Olympics.

There are also high-profile corporate jobs, for example transporting world leaders to the last G8 summit.

Because of the unpredict-able nature of film and TV production schedules Mr Barnes undertakes regular contract work, such as with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, for which he works six days each month. He has been flying air ambulances for 10 years.

However, he said he enjoys all the different types of work and the variety is what he likes most about his job.

He trained as a helicopter pilot 18 years ago after four years in the advertising industry straight from university, having graduated in business studies.

“I needed a change of direction, “ he said.

“It’s not always been easy. You can get a licence to fly a helicopter in a year but it’s like driving a car - you carry on learning once you have your licence.

“I’d say you’ve got to be flying about 10 years to really be competent enough to do it all.

“Film work is just a small part of the work and it’s good fun.

“But I like the variety and really enjoy the air ambulance work - that’s why I do it.”

• This article originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post on February 14, 2006