TRIBUTES have been paid to a heroic pilot who tragically died in a helicopter crash outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium.

Eric Swaffer was a former Brighton College schoolboy, and was among five people who died in the crash, along with Leicester City’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Witnesses said the experienced Pilot managed to steer the out of control chopper away from crowds of people.

The chopper crashed at 8.30pm on Saturday after a football game between Leicester and West Ham United.

Now, Brighton College headmaster Richard Cairns said Mr Swaffer’s love of flying started while he was a student at the school between 1979 and 1983.

“His contemporaries and teachers remember him as a kind an popular boy,” Mr Cairns said.

Mr Swaffer was on board with his co-pilot and partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz, while the other two passengers were Kaveporn Punpare and Nursara Suknamai.

He had experience flying for Channel 4s Big Breakfast, and for Virgin Radio’s traffic helicopter.

Sky Sports cameraman told The Sun that Mr Swaffer had acted like a “hero”.

He said: “I heard the helicopter coming out of the stadium, saw it as you do, they are amazing pieces of machinery and then I just carried on walking thinking next time I look up it is going to be overhead

"The next thing I just looked up and it was just spinning, static just out of control, just a constant spinning, I have never seen anything like it.

“I don't know how the pilot did it but he seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park.

“To my mind the pilot was heroic and the two police officers in front of me, who also tried to help, they are heroes too.”

In a tribute to Mr Swaffer, Mr Cairns said: “It is with great sadness that the school learnt today that one of our former pupils, Eric Swaffer, died at the weekend after the helicopter he was piloting crashed near the Leicester city football ground while transporting the club’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

“Eric was at Brighton College from 1979 to 1983 and fell in love with flying when, as a schoolboy CCF cadet, he visited an Royal Navy ship flight deck.

“His contemporaries and teachers remember him as a kind and popular boy. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”

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