Three years after Sala’s death |
Pilot knew aircraft problem
Once again depressing news in the case of Emiliano Sala († 28).
The Argentine footballer died in a plane crash three years ago in January 2019.
Sala was on his way to Cardiff City FC. The Welsh club previously signed him from French league side FC Nantes for a club record £15m (approx. €17.1m).
Now the English television “BBC” has published a telephone recording of the pilot David Ibbotson († 59), who also died in the accident. In the recording he talks about the catastrophic condition of the plane.
Ibbotson reported that he heard a loud bang on the flight to Nantes. He brought Sala back to France so the forward could say goodbye to his team and collect personal belongings.
The day before the return flight, Ibbotson said during the phone call that the plane was in a “suspicious” condition. “This plane belongs back in the hangar,” Ibbotson continued.
The pilot: “Normally I would have my life jacket between the seats, but tomorrow I will wear my life jacket.”
Cardiff City FC offered Sala a charter flight via Paris. However, the player decided against this option because he wanted more time to say goodbye.
Willie McKay, an intermediary for Sala’s transfer, therefore wanted to hire pilot David Henderson for the flight. Since he could not himself, Henderson turned on Ibbotson. Although he was just a hobby pilot, did not have a license and otherwise worked as a fuel fitter.
About an hour after the start of the return flight, the vehicle lost radar contact and eventually crashed into the English Channel. Sala’s body was recovered from the wreck two weeks later.
Henderson was sentenced to 18 months in prison for organizing the robbery. In August this year, FIFA decided that Cardiff must pay the first installment of the €6m transfer of Sala to Nantes.