Emiliano Sala’s pilot rang to report ‘bang’ and ‘very low mist’ inside plane

The pilot carrying Emiliano Sala across the channel reported a "bang" and a "very low mist" from inside the doomed aircraft.

Both pilot David Ibbotson and Sala were tragically killed in January 2019 when the plane escorting the Argentine back to south Wales disappeared near Alderney. It is understood Ibbotson dipped the Piper Malibu aircraft to avoid clouds when flying at 5,000ft and but crashed into the English Channel at approximately 270mph.

Sealing a switch to then-Premier League outfit Cardiff City, as the club's record signing, Sala turned down a commercial flight via Paris as he wanted more time to properly say goodbye to his family and friends.

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Former football agent Willie McKay then organised a private flight between Nantes and Cardiff, son Mark McKay was Nantes' acting agent in the deal for Sala, that pilot David Henderson was supposed to carry out – however, Henderson instead passed on the duties to Mr Ibbotson.

Sala was unaware that Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to undertake the 300-mile flight. A gas fitter by trade, Mr Ibbotson was an amateur pilot who did not possess a licence to carry paying passengers or to fly in the dark.

Now in recently unearthed audio from the BBC, the 59-year-old is known to have informed friend Kevin Jones about his concerns regarding the aircraft.

"I'm mid-Channel and 'bang'," Mr Ibbotson said about his flight to Nantes prior to making the return trip. "I'm flying along and then 'boom'. I thought, 'what's wrong?'

"So I put everything forward and checked my parameters, everything was good and it was still flying, but it got your attention."

He continued: "That Malibu, occasionally you've got like a mist every so often. You can feel it, very, very low throughout the airframe."

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Mr Ibbotson also told his friend that the left pedal of plane N264DB was faulty after landing at Nantes Atlantique Airport. "This aircraft has got to go back in the hangar," he added.

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