Floral tributes left for missing Crowle pilot after search to find plane carrying Cardiff footballer ceases

Floral tributes have been left for a Crowle man, who was pilot of a plane carrying Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala when it went missing earlier this week.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 9:01 pm
Updated Friday, 25th January 2019, 9:03 pm
Tributes left in Crowle for missing pilot David Ibbotson (Picture: Kate Mason)

Pilot David Ibbotson, 59, from Crowle, and footballer Emiliano Sala have been missing since Monday night, after their plane from Nantes in western France to Cardiff went disappeared from radar over the English Channel. 

Rescuers have carried out extensive searches for the pair, but John Fitzgerald, Channel Islands Air Search chief officer, said it was unlikely Sala or Ibbotson would be found alive, and said the operation was more of a recovery mission.

However, all search efforts were called off on Thursday night.

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Mr Ibbotson – a full-time gas engineer –  was associated with skydiving company Target Skysports, based in Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire and had extensive experience in private flights and parachute expeditions.

Floral tributes continue to appear in his hometown as Argentina's president added pressure for rescuers to continue the search for the plane.

The Civil Aviation Authority are now preparing to launch an investigation.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “It has not been determined yet who is going to carry out the investigation, but it’s likely to happen. Any investigation will be determined by the Air Investigation Branch.”

Sala was on his way back to Wales after saying goodbye to his Nantes team-mates on Monday night having signed a three-and-a-half-year deal to join the Bluebirds two days earlier.

According to Guernsey Police, the single turbine engine aircraft departed Nantes at 7:45pm on Monday for the Welsh capital and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. 

On passing Guernsey it "requested descent", but Jersey air traffic control (ATC) lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

Floral tributes are also being placed outside Cardiff City Stadium as messages of support continue to pour in for the families of both David Ibbotson and Emiliano Sala.