TRIBUTES have been paid to a highly respected pilot who died while windsurfing off the North East coast.
Daniel Silipo got into trouble when he was separated from his board out at sea near the Gloucester Lodge Farm, between South Beach, Blyth, and Seaton Sluice, last week.
Lifeboats from Cullercoats and Blyth and RAF Boulmer went to the scene after members of the public reported seeing a windsurfer face down in the water.
Mr Silipo, a married father-of-three from Ponteland, Northumberland, was airlifted to Wansbeck General Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Now, tributes have been paid to the 44-year-old British Airways pilot and former Global Supply Systems (GSS) pilot.
A spokesperson for BA said: “He was a highly respected and popular member of our pilot team. It is a very sad loss and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
Mr Silipo, who was a captain for BA, was a keen sportsman and had windsurfed all over the world.
The former Ponteland High School pupil had been on a Northumberland windsurfing forum on the morning he died and appeared to ask if anyone wanted to join him in the sea last Wednesday.
He wrote: “So, in the windsurfing mecca that is the NE of England I'll be at speed trench at Blyth or Seaton Sluice today with my GPS unit for speed runs – looking for the production board world record today. Depends on the wind direction when I get to the beach as u can't beat Blyth for access to the sand but I don't want to wallow around getting back in if its a dead westerly so maybe at Seaton Sluice.
“I have 2 isonic slalom boards if anyone wants to try one.”
Tribute messages were also left on The Professional Pilots Rumour Network, a forum for pilots.
William A Bong wrote: “We at GSS have just been informed of the very untimely death of Dan. He was windsurfing and got into difficulties, full details not really known yet. He leaves a wife and young family. RIP.”
Exaviator wrote: “What a complete tragedy. I trained Daniel when he was a new F/O on the B747 with SIA, then flew with him on several occasions after he had completed his training.
“He was without a doubt a most competent pilot, and a very pleasant young man to socialise with.
“It would be hard to meet a more happy and adventurous individual.
“It was my pleasure to have known him. My sincere condolences to his wife Emma and family.”
b1rdman747 wrote: “I first met Dan when he arrived at GSS as a secondee captain. He was one of the nicest people I have met in aviation. He couldn't believe his good fortune coming from the bottom of BA's 744 fleet to be a captain and was always cheerful and a pleasure to work with.
I had the privilege of doing his command training and it was obvious he was a very talented pilot. God bless you Dan.”
Airclues said: “I had the pleasure of doing some of Dan's command training when he joined GSS. As well as being an excellent pilot he was also a pleasure to fly with, both on and off duty.
“Sincere condolences to his wife and family. I'm sure that he will be missed by his colleagues in GSS.”
An inquest into Mr Silipo’s death has been opened and adjourned.