Friends said no request was too much for Pete Barnes, the helicopter pilot who lost his life in the Vauxhall crash last week.
Yesterday, investigators revealed that he had decided to fly to pick up a valued client despite warnings that freezing weather conditions might make his journey impossible.
At 7.29am Barnes texted the waiting passenger, just before he set off from Redhill: "I'm coming anyway. Will land in a field if I have to." Less than half an hour later, thwarted by the fog, he was dead.
The last moments of the man at the centre of London's first major helicopter accident were made vivid in transcripts revealing the pilot was in contact with air traffic controllers until seven seconds before his Agusta 109 collided with a crane.
The conversation ended with controllers clearing Barnes to divert to Battersea heliport, moments before the helicopter turned and struck the crane above a tower shrouded by fog, just over 200m up on the south bank of the Thames.
The 50-year-old pilot died from multiple injuries, and a pedestrian, Matthew Wood, 39, was killed as the fuselage of the twin-engine Agusta 109 helicopter plunged on to Wandsworth Road. Several other people suffered serious injuries.
A series of texts and calls between Barnes and his flight operator at RotorMotion in Redhill, Surrey, as well as to a pilot friend and the waiting passenger believed to be the owner of the Ivy restaurant, Richard Caring show that the pilot was fully aware of the freezing fog but decided to do the job regardless. Caring and another passenger at Elstree, Hertfordshire, were due to be flown north where the weather was reportedly clear.
Having first texted his passenger at 6.30am to relay forecasts of freezing fog, Barnes told his pilot friend named only as Witness A in the Air Accident Investigation Branch special bulletin that he was going to "fly overhead to see for himself" if he could make it to Elstree, as the skies at Redhill were clear enough to take off.
In two subsequent phone calls Caring, concerned by the weather around Elstree, finally suggested twice that Barnes should not yet take off. Barnes replied that he was already starting his engines.
The former police and air ambulance pilot decided about 20 minutes later from the skies above Hertfordshire that there was no way through. At 7.51am he texted Witness A he was returning to base: "No hole hdg back to red". Two minutes later he sent a last text to Caring: "Least we tried."
Barnes texted RotorMotion to check all was clear to return to Redhill. The operator's confirmation, "Yes it's fine still here", was never read.
Barnes was now in radio conversation with air traffic controllers, as the helicopter came on their radar in the airspace above central London. At 7.56am he told them: "If I could head to Battersea that would be very useful."
At 7.59:10am the controller said: "Rocket Two, yeah Battersea's diversion approved. You're cleared to Battersea."
Barnes replied: "Lovely thanks Rocket Two".
The controller continued: "Rocket Two contact Battersea one two two decimal niner."
Barnes signed off: "Two two nine, thanks a lot."
At 7.59:18am the call was ended, with Barnes' helicopter 150m south-west of Vauxhall bridge. It turned right, and seven seconds later hit the crane.
Debris and fuel spread over several streets below, with rotor blades that detached on impact smashing through the glass panels of a nearby building, and the gearbox striking a van in the loading bay of the nearby Covent Garden flower market. The stricken helicopter's fuselage landed 240m away in Wandsworth Road, blowing a crater in the tarmac and bursting into flames. Other parts landed on building roofs and ripped through vehicles, underlining the police reaction that the casualty toll was almost "miraculously" low.
The full report and conclusion from the AAIB is likely to be some months off as investigators conduct a detailed inspection of the wreckage and helicopter maintenance documents. The AAIB will also examine flight regulations over London, as well as rules for new development and the lighting of obstacles. Aviators had been notified of the crane on the construction site of The Tower at St George's Wharf, which rose to around 230m, with warnings reissued just a week earlier.
David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flightglobal, said the interim report should end a lot of speculation about system failures. He said: "[The pilot] was flying visually. Visibility was bad. The crane was lit. The question is why did he not see it.
"He was trying to carry out a very, very difficult task in very, very difficult conditions. He had very little manoeuvring room in terms of the height and the obstacles beneath him."
National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the air traffic controllers, said last week that the pilot had "received a service" earlier in his journey but was not in contact at the time of the crash. After the report showed that the call only ended seconds before, Nats said the "facts remain that he was not in contact with controllers at the moment of the crash".
RotorMotion was said to be in turmoil as they coped with losing a close colleague while dealing with a barrage of legal and insurance issues. In a statement, the company said: "It is important to bear in mind that the AAIB has stopped short of publishing any analysis, conclusions or safety recommendations. It is also clear that there are many important lines of inquiry which still need to be pursued and we are continuing to co-operate fully with the AAIB in that process."
In a tribute to Barnes, RotorMotion's director and chief pilot Philip Amadeus wrote: "I would just like to say here how much I am going to miss him, both as a person and a colleague. It was always a pleasure to be in his presence, as he was always such a cheerful and fun person to be with and nothing was ever too much for him if asked.
"As a pilot I ranked him at the very top of his profession and I would always refer to him whenever I needed advice."