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Emiliano Sala’s missing pilot ‘had some control’ of doomed plane when it crashed into the sea

EMILIANO Sala's missing plane pilot had "some control" of the doomed aircraft before it crashed into the sea, an aviation expert has claimed.

David Ibbotson was flying the £15million Cardiff City striker from Nantes to the Welsh capital when the single propeller jet came down near Alderney on January 21.

David Ibbotson, right, tagged himself landing at Nantes Airport on Saturday
Refer to Caption Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala was confirmed dead after a body was recovered from the doomed aircraft

An official search was called off within just four days but an initial fundraising page gained more than £260,000 to pay for a private search.

That investigation led to the discovery of the footballer’s body in the wreckage on February 4.


Mr Ibbotson’s body has not yet been discovered.

It's thought the plane came down in bad weather, but former RAF instructor David Learmount, now consulting editor at aviation news website Flight Global, suggested Mr Ibbotson, 60, had some control over the plane when it came down.

Nobody dives an aircraft into the sea knowing they are diving the aircraft into the sea. You pull the nose up

David Learmoun

He told The Times the wreckage was not spread out over a wide area, which he claims is the norm  after a high-speed uncontrolled dive.

He claimed: "Nobody dives an aircraft into the sea knowing they are diving the aircraft into the sea. You pull the nose up.

"It didn't enter the sea at high speed with its nose down."

The expert's theory came after Sala’s family last night urged authorities to continue looking for the pilot’s body.

It didn't enter the sea at high speed with its nose down

David Learmount

They said in a statement: "It is with infinite sadness that we confirm the identity of Emiliano's body.

"We would like to thank you for all your signs of affection and support in what is the most painful time of our lives.

"Seeing the whole world mobilised to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.

"On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him."

A GoFundMe page, set up by Ibbotson’s daughter Danielle, hopes to raise enough money to launch another private search.


The page says: "Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves.

"As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good-hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.

"As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.

"To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.

"We can not bare the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.

"Any donations would be very much appreciated.

"Thank you so much for your support Ibbotson Family."

The page had raised over £12,000 by Friday evening.

Donations can be made here.

Part of the wreckage of the plane flown by David Ibbotson
The body of David Ibbotson is still missing
Emiliano Sala – Crowdfunded team led by David Mearns discover the location of the crashed aircraft, before the AAIB use a camera to confirm the identity of the plane



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