Search for Emiliano Sala’s missing pilot starts next week

Shipwreck hunter who found Emiliano Sala’s body will begin search for remains of missing pilot next week as crowdfunding appeal nears £250,000

  • David Ibbotson, 51, remains lost at sea after the plane crashed in January 
  • The pilot’s daughter crowdfunded to hire a private team to search the Channel 
  • David Mearns will lead the operation using deep sea divers and helicopters 

The shipwreck hunter who found Emiliano Sala’s body will next week begin the search for the missing pilot following a crowdfunding drive which has raised almost £250,00.

David Mearns’s team of deep sea divers which successfully located the Argentine striker will now attempt to find 51-year-old David Ibbotson.

Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, was flying the Piper Malibu light aircraft carrying the 28-year-old Cardiff City signing when it crashed into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on January 21.

Scroll down for video

Pilot David Ibbotson and his wife, Nora Ibbotson. The frequent flyer went missing with his plane on January 21

Missing footballer Emiliano Sala was confirmed dead after his body was brought up from the bottom of the English Channel 

Although an initial search operation was called off, Sala’s body was discovered on February 7 after funds were raised to hire private boat crews to continue. 

Now, Mr Ibbotson’s family have also gathered enough donations on a GoFundMe page to launch their own search for the missing pilot which will again be led by Mr Mearns. 

The pilot’s daughter, Danielle Ibbotson, set up the campaign last week with a target of £300,000 to fund the operation to find her father and give him ‘the send-off he deserves’. 

Ms Ibbotson told the campaign’s supporters: ‘Thank you all so much for your support. 

‘We are looking to have the deep divers start hopefully beginning of next week. We are just waiting on confirmation of dates to update you all.

David Ibbotson’s wife Nora (left) and daughter Danielle (right) wept on Good Morning Britain as they told of their sorrow at the pilot’s body not being found 

The sister of Emiliano Sala posted this picture of the footballer on Instagram after it was confirmed his body has been recovered from the wreckage of an air crash at sea. The photo shows him on the pitch at Nantes, the French club he was leaving to join Cardiff City

‘Also we are organising the helicopter searches of the coastal areas just will be starting a lot sooner than the deep dive.

‘You have all been so amazing and thank you for all your kind messages and donations.’

  • Emiliano Sala’s body arrives home in Argentina as his loved…

    ‘I’ll love you forever’: Brazilian volleyball star, 31,…

Share this article

Paris Saint-Germain and French international footballer Kylian Mbappé was among the donors to the page which is just short of a quarter of a million pounds.  

Mr Mearns, who has begun planning the search mission, said that the hunt for the pilot’s body is technically different from the one to locate the plane.  

He said: ‘I have been assisting the family of pilot David Ibbotson to hopefully locate his body.

The Piper Malibu aircraft was flown by Mr Ibbotson on January 21 with the Cardiff City record signing as his passenger travelling from Nantes

 The plane was found by Mearns’ team off the coast of Guernsey where it had crashed

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane more than 20 miles off the coast of Guernsey

‘This search is technically very different to the underwater search for the Piper Malibu aircraft.

‘It is dependent on good weather, neap tides and flight permits. The family needs space to plan.

‘The search will include a dive to the wreck to rule out 100% that David’s body is there and a helicopter search of inaccessible coastal areas in the Channel Islands using trained pilots and observers. All contingent on good weather, permits, etc.’

When Danielle Ibbotson first launched the fundraising drive, she told Good Morning Britain: ‘If you’ve got hope you shouldn’t give up.

‘He wouldn’t stop searching for me.’

Mr Ibbotson’s wife, Nora, told the show that they won’t be able to grieve properly until his body is brought home.

‘We do know he’s gone but we want him back,’ she said. ‘We know he is dead but we just want him home.

‘He’s been a brilliant husband he’s supported us all he was our supporter he was our rock. We feel like he’s just out there on his own at the moment.

‘I know conditions aren’t brilliant and it’s a dangerous sea but we just need to have that last look.’

Timeline: How the Sala tragedy unfolded 

January 21, 2019:

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. At 8.50pm the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.

January 22:

The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.

January 24:

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is ‘extremely remote’.  

January 26:

It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.

January 27:

Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns. 

January 28:

Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.

January 30:

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.

February 3:

Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.

Feburary 4:

A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.

February 6:

A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey. The AAIB says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, ‘the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’.

February 7:

The Geo Ocean III search boat returns to dock in Portland, Dorset, carrying the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft. Investigators wait to confirm if the body inside the wreckage is that of the pilot or the Argentinian footballer. 

Source: Read Full Article