In 2004, Pete Barnes carried out a daring rescue of a motorist from a flooded ford in County Durham while working for the Great North Air Ambulance.
The paramedic who flew with him on that mission said he was one of the best pilots he had ever flown with.
Patrick Banks, a close friend of Captain Pete Barnes, told ITV London that friends will "rally round" the family of the late pilot.
"He was such a genuinely nice guy," said Mr Banks.
"He'd been all over the world flying all sorts of aircraft, in particular helicopters."
The pilot of the helicopter which crashed in central London had thousands of hours of flying experience including for films such as Die Another Day and Saving Private Ryan.
Pete Barnes, who died when the helicopter he was flying hit a crane on a high building and crashed onto a street in Vauxhall, had amassed around 9,000 hours of flying time, including 3,500 hours on the type of craft he was piloting today.
Ross Bunyard, the Managing Director of Castle Air, based in Liskeard, reads a statement in response to the helicopter crash that killed two people in London.
Andy Williamson, chief executive of The Air Ambulance Service, paid tribute to pilot Pete Barnes:
We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Pete Barnes was killed in the helicopter accident in London this morning.
Pete had worked with us for many years and will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts are with his family and with all the families affected by this tragedy.
London mayor Boris Johnson confirmed that the crane hit by a helicopter this morning "is now secure".
Speaking to reporters in south London, Mr Johnson described the response of the capital's emergency services as "immensely reassuring".
He said questions about air traffic in the area and the use of the Battersea heliport are "matters that are now being investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority".
The pilot who died today after the helicopter he was flying crashed in London was named by sources as Pete Barnes, reports the Press Association.
Following the fatal helicopter crash in London, a key line of investigation will look at whether the hazard lights on the crane were on at the time of collision.
ITV News Correspondent Rageh Omaar reports:
Asked about the lighting claim, a spokesman for the Construction Plant hire Association (CPA), which represents crane operators, said: "We have no comment to make."