Pilot in Emiliano Sala Crash Worried About 'Dodgy' Plane

Phone call he had with friend before flight was accidentally recorded, obtained by BBC
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
Pilot in Emiliano Sala Crash Worried About 'Dodgy' Plane
Cardiff supporters gather to pay tribute to Argentinian soccer player Emiliano Sala prior the French League One soccer match between Nantes against Bordeaux at La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes, western France, on Jan. 26, 2020.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

After soccer star Emiliano Sala's death in a 2019 plane crash, reports came out that the Cardiff City player told his family he was "so scared" because the plane looked like it was "going to fall apart." Now, a report that the pilot apparently felt similarly about the doomed aircraft. In audio obtained by the BBC, David Ibbotson is heard telling a friend before the flight that the plane was "dodgy" and that "I'll be wearing my life jacket." Sala had just signed to Cardiff City from the French club Nantes, and had flown back to France to say goodbye to friends and teammates and get some of his things. He was flying back to Wales when the Piper Malibu crashed, killing him and Ibbotson.

The audio obtained by the BBC from a phone call between Ibbotson and another pilot also features Ibbotson, who was not licensed to carry passengers or to fly in the dark, describing apparent issues with the plane that he experienced on the flight to France. "I'm mid-Channel and 'bang,'" Ibbotson says on the call regarding a sound he heard on the flight. "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 said he also realized the plane's left brake pedal wasn't working after he landed, and noted, "This aircraft has got to go back in the hanger." More at the BBC, which obtained the recorded call for its podcast on Sala. (More Emiliano Sala stories.)

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