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Emiliano Sala's pilot David Ibbotson 'had some control of plane when it hit sea water'

SPORTS By Mirror | February 9th 2019
Pilot Dave Ibbotson and Emiliano Sala (inset) [Courtesy]

Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala's pilot had some control when the plane hit the water, an aviation expert says.

The footballer, 28, was killed after the propeller Piper PA-46 Malibu plane crash-landed in the English Channel near Guernsey.

Pilot David Ibbotson's body has not been recovered.

Sala's remains were removed from the plane on Wednesday night and formally identified.

It is believed the plane came down due to bad weather as it flew from Nantes in France to Cardiff on January 21.

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.

He told The Times the wreckage was not spread out over a wide area, as normally happens after a high-speed, uncontrolled dive.

Ibbotson had some control when the plane hit the water, an aviation expert says [Courtesy]

Mr Learmount said this suggests the pilot had "not absolutely, completely lost control".

He added: "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."

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The expert shipwreck hunter who found Sala's body told The Mirror he would also help find Mr Ibbotson's body if his family requested it.

It came as the daughter of Mr Ibbotson set up a crowd-funding page in a bid to restart the search for her missing father.

The campaign has so far raised nearly £14,000, with the target being £300,000.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed that the search had been brought to an end, with the operation to raise the wreckage aborted due to bad weather.

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