What caused footballer Emiliano Sala’s plane to crash and has his body been recovered?


THE body of Emiliano Sala was found after a private search of plane he travelling in when it crashed in the English Channel.

Tributes are still pouring in for the 28-year-old Argentinian forward, who had just signed for Cardiff City when was killed.

Emiliano Sala poses with his Cardiff shirt after signing for the club over the weekend
Emiliano Sala is Cardiff City’s record signing and was on board the missing plane
Getty – Contributor

What caused the plane crash?

On January 23, aviation experts exclusively told The Sun how a build up of ice on the wings of the aircraft carrying Emiliano Sala could have been the cause of the crash.

Sala sent WhatsApp messages to his friends as the plane lurched in rough conditions, saying the plane “looks like it’s going to fall apart”.

One aviation expert claimed: “There are reports that the footballer was texting saying the aircraft is shaking and breaking up are classic signs of icing on the wings.

“The pilot is most likely wrestling with a stall at 2,300ft.

How ice can form on a plane and affect its handling

“It is likely, though, that the aircraft hit the water in one piece otherwise debris would have quickly been found.”

Two seat cushions were discovered on the coast of Surtainville, northwestern France – over a week after the Cardiff City star’s plane vanished over the Channel.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the cushions are likely to have been from the Piper Malibu plane which vanished on Monday, January 21.

It has also been reported that pilot David Ibbotson, 60, admitted he was “a bit rusty” at the controls before the aircraft vanished.

He told pals his fears after arriving in France two days before his aircraft went missing – and even joked about the state of his landing.

Dave Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, was flying Emiliano Sala to Cardiff when the plane vanished

The married dad-of-four from Scunthorpe, Lincs, told a pal: “Was not too bad when I got there, but I’m a bit rusty with the ILS (instrument landing system).”

He then said the landing had been “a little bit on the high side hehe, better than on the low side”.

He spent Sunday in Nantes before meeting Sala at the city’s airport on Monday evening.

Reports suggested they had attempted to take off four times before finally getting airborne.

The plane climbed to 5,000ft but later asked Jersey air traffic control for permission to drop to 2,300ft. It then vanished at 8.30pm near Alderney.

Wreckage of the missing plane carrying Emiliano Sala has been found and his body has been recovered
Wreckage of the missing plane carrying Emiliano Sala has been found and his body has been recovered

What’s the latest?

Emiliano Sala has been confirmed dead after the Cardiff City striker’s body was pulled from plane crash wreckage in the English Channel.

Tthe small plane was found on the bottom of the ocean north of Guernsey, on Wednesday, February 6 – more than two weeks after it disappeared.

The 28-year-old was identified by the Dorset coroner on Thursday, February 7.

An inquest into his death in Dorset on February 11 opened and adjourned after hearing how a post-mortem confirmed Sala died from “head and trunk” injuries.

Sala was flying from Nantes, western France, to Cardiff after making a club-record £15million transfer to the Premier League strugglers when the plane disappeared on January 21.

On February 3 the wreckage of the Piper Malibu N264DB was discovered in the English Channel, finally giving Sala’s family some answers.

The world of football united in grief over the loss, with Sala’s new club and teammates saying the Argentinian will “forever remain in our thoughts”.

It is now claimed that the pilot made “basic errors” before their plane crashed into the English Channel.

David Ibbotson decided not to use flight instruments that were vital to flying through cloudy conditions on the night of the doomed flight to Cardiff, according to new claims.

He also filled the Malibu-Piper aircraft’s licence number incorrectly on his flight plan form.

While other documents show he was not licensed to take passengers – only himself.

The damning claims have been made by Argentinian journalist Christian Martin.

Martin, who works for Fox News, claimed Mr Ibbotson used Visual Flight Rules (VFR) instead of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) on the night of January 21.

Sala turned down an offer from Cardiff City to take a commercial flight because he said he had already arranged his journey with ex-football agent Willie McKay, the man who had helped broker his transfer deal.

The messages produced by French outlet Ouest-France show a Cardiff Player Liaison Officer sending a screenshot offering a commercial flight passing through Paris for the striker to take.

The WhatsApp messages are in French and Spanish and show Sala declining the offer because he already had a flight arranged after McKay called him.

It comes as McKay has accused Cardiff City of “abandoning” Sala.

Romina Sala holds a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium
AFP or licensors

What has his family said?

The footballer’s family has been told the devastating news and are being supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.

“Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time,” a spokesman for Dorset Police said.

“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.”

His devastated sister Romina led the tributes to the talented footballer, saying: “Your soul will shine forever thus illuminating the time of my existence.

“I love you.”

The devastating announcement came hours after she posted a picture of the 28-year-old with their mum Mercedes ahead of the official news.

How has the footballing world paid tribute to Sala?

Stars from around the world including Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Benjamin Mendy led the tributes online after Dorset Police said they had identified the body.

A statement posted on Cardiff’s official website read: “It is with great sadness that we report the following statement, issued on February 7 2019 by the Dorset Police: ‘The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala. The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers’.”

The football club also said: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.

“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”

Sala’s teammate Joe Bennett tweeted a crying emoji and wrote: “RIP Emiliano”.

Fellow Cardiff player Sol Bamba added: “Tragic… May you rest in peace.”

Here are just some of the social media posts paying tribute to the Argentine star:

View this post on Instagram

Lamento muchísimo esta noticia tan triste. Muchos guardábamos una luz de esperanza por vos, Emiliano. Le mando un abrazo muy grande a tus familiares y amigos, y agradezco en nombre de los argentinos el respeto de los colegas e hinchas de todas partes del mundo. Hasta siempre Emiliano! #RecenPorSala #PrayForSala

A post shared by Diego Maradona (@maradona) on


View this post on Instagram

RIP EMI 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺

A post shared by Kylian Mbappé (@k.mbappe) on



View this post on Instagram

RIP @emilianosala9 🤲🏿🙌🏿

A post shared by Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) on


View this post on Instagram

#RIPSala 😢🙏

A post shared by Iker Casillas (@ikercasillas) on


View this post on Instagram

RIP 😪🙏🏾

A post shared by Alex Lacazette (@lacazettealex) on




Has the pilot been found?

The family of missing pilot David Ibbotson who is feared dead in the plane crash with Sala are reportedly “beside themselves with grief” as they do not know what has happened to him.

Mr Ibbotson’s wife Nora has been desperately waiting for news at her home in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

A relative of the heartbroken family told the MailOnline: “What’s happened is awful and all we want is for David’s body to be found so we can lay him to rest properly, as he deserves, and pay our respects.

“Not knowing where he is and if his body has been found or maybe never will be is the worst thing ever.”

The family are still desperately trying to raise £300,000 needed to bring his body back home.

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