Tributes paid to Hove pilot who died in avalanche

Posted On 14 Jan 2011 at 3:17 am

A Hove airline pilot has died after being buried in snow while skiing in the Alps.

James Whalley, 32, who flew for EasyJet, was one of four people to die in an avalanche.

A fifth skier in the group survived the avalanche at Val d’Isere in France.

Mr Whalley, who came from Guernsey, had moved to Hove recently to be nearer his girlfriend Holly Hill, 23, an EasyJet stewardess, from Portslade.

He was a keen skier, runner and windsurfer and “an amazing man” who “lived life to the full”, according to his friend Ian Smith, also from Hove.

An online message posted by staff at Surflädlethe surfing shop in Ferry Road, Shoreham Beach, said: “We are very sorry to have heard that one of our customers and local windsurfer from Hove, James Whalley, has lost his life in a tragic skiing accident in Val d’Isere.

“As far as we understand James was in a group of skiers who were caught by an avalanche at the resort.

“And even though they were correctly equipped with air bag vests and transceivers, by the time the rescue services had managed to reach the avalanche area it was too late for four of the party.

“James was a young 32-year-old, always full of energy, always in a hurry.

“He had that wonderful juvenile spirit about him.

“He will be sadly missed.

“We would like to offer our sincere condolences to James family, his partner and friends.”

Another online message, from Fletcherdog on a windsurfing messageboard, said: “James was … a talented and commited windsurfer.

“His energy and enthusiasm for life, and sport, was contagious.

“If you didn’t know him personally, you’d recognise him by seeing the huge forwards he would throw himself into while sailing at Powerstations.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Val d’Isere.

“Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance.”

An EasyJet spokesman said: “We were shocked and saddened to hear of the untimely death of Captain James Whalley.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and EasyJet colleagues at this difficult time.”

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