The plane that Emiliano Sala was on, which was operated by a private company, on Monday night, remains unaccounted for after it disappeared off flight radars. The unanswered questions have been drilled down by 20 Minutes.
Who was on the plane?
The fact that Sala was on the flight is no longer in doubt. But the number of people on the flight remains uncertain. 20 Minutes are able to confirm that there were only two people aboard the plane: Emiliano Sala and the pilot. The latter individual was Dave Ibbotson, a 60-year-old Englishman from Leeds who has 3 children and is a gas engineer by trade.
He flew planes for several sky diving clubs in the United Kingdom and his YouTube account shows him flying planes in 2012. But the fact that he was flying the plane and why is a mystery: he was not registered on the flight manifest that was received by Nantes airport, according to 20 Minutes.
Was a second pilot due to be on the plane?
On Monday night, three people passed security checks at the Nantes-Atlantique airport. All three individuals were on the tarmac together. Only one pilot boarded the plane, Dave Ibbotson, who was not initially due to be on the plane. The third man, who was registered to be on the plane, is understood to have been Dave Henderson, a very experienced pilot, who did not get on the flight.
Why didn’t he? On Tuesday, Dave Henderson posted a message on his Facebook account making it clear that he was still alive. This Wednesday morning, most likely because of the abuse he was receiving online, he deactivated his account. Several people close to Henderson have told the BBC that he was neither in Nantes nor in France.
Who owned the plane?
The plane, a type of Piper Malibu, delivered in 1984, was given the registration N264DB in England. Cardiff City deny having been behind the flight: “We asked the player if he wanted us to make arrangements for his flight which, quite frankly, would have been a commercial flight,” said club president Mehmet Dalman, quoted by Wales Online. “He refused and made his own arrangements. I do not know who organised the flight, but it’s definitely not Cardiff City.” According to The Times, the plane is owned by a famous football agent, Willie McKay, who has a close relationship with the Welsh club. 20 Minutes have been able to confirm as much and McKay was also behind brokering the deal between Cardiff & Nantes.