Private search for missing pair

A private search for missing Isle pilot David Ibbotson and his passenger, footballer Emiliano Sala, has begun as fears continue to grow for the pair with messages of support rolling in.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 9:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 9:58 am
Flowers laid in Crowle

Mr Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, a full-time gas engineer, was flying the Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala over the English Channel when the plane disappeared.

He was confirmed as the pilot last Wednesday evening.

The two men have now been missing for more than a week, and an official rescue mission was called off after three days.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Donors have since rallied together to raise £280,000 for the new private search after the news has made international headlines.

Flowers continue to be placed outside Cardiff City Stadium and have also been placed in Crowle locally, while Isle well wishers have dedicated their thoughts to Mr Ibbotson’s family.

Coun Rob Waltham, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, told the Bells: “The family must be going through turmoil at the moment – it must be truly awful.

“We all still hope the pair will be found safe and well.”

The initial target of £130,000 towards the search was met within 24 hours and two private search vessels began to scour the sea again at the weekend.

David Mearns, who is leading the private search, said the family of the missing Argentine striker Mr Sala had travelled to Guernsey to be near where the plane was last located and to find out about the investigation and what happens next.

In a message from Mr Sala’s family published on the fundraising website, they said the tragedy goes "far beyond football" and they thanked those who had donated.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock has also said it had been the “most difficult week” of his career. In a press conference he also said he believed he had personally been flown by Mr Ibbotson, and that he was a “fabulous pilot.”

A decision was made by authorities to stop looking for the Piper Malibu plane carrying the Argentine and Mr Ibbotson after three days of searching land and sea around the islands of Guernsey and Alderney.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has also begun an investigation.