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Sala pilot’s family ‘just want him home’ as £150k raised for search

Written by on 11/02/2019

The family of the pilot who was flying Emiliano Sala say they “just want him home” – as £150,000 is raised in two days for a new search.

David Ibbotson’s wife, Nora, told Good Morning Britain: “We do know he’s gone – but we want him back… We just want him home.”

“We can’t leave him out there on his own,” she added.

“We feel like he’s just out there on his own at the moment. This is why we’ve done the appeal – just for some help.”

Dave Ibbotson

Image: Mr Ibbotson’s plane disappeared last month

Mr Ibbotson was flying Cardiff City’s new signing from France to the UK on 21 January when the Piper Malibu plane disappeared over the Channel.

The 28-year-old footballer was recovered after a privately funded search located the wreck on the seabed, but Mr Ibbotson has not been found.

Danielle Ibbotson, the pilot’s daughter, told Good Morning Britain the family “literally don’t know where we can go from here”.

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Image: Emiliano Sala’s body was found and recovered after a privately funded search

She said they hoped a diver would be able to check the wreckage again, as well as launching a potential search of coastal areas in case her father’s body washes up.

“I know that it might take a long time time but I don’t want this just to be it,” she added.

Mr Ibbotson’s wife also said she wanted the wreck checked again so she could have peace of mind.

“I know the conditions aren’t brilliant – it’s such a dangerous sea – but so we know ourselves that we had that last (look),” she said.

France striker Kylian Mbappe is among those who have donated to the fund for a new search, pledging £27,000.

Former England and Tottenham player Gary Lineker has also given £1,000.

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Nantes pay tribute to Emiliano Sala Former club’s tribute to Emiliano Sala

The fund has hit half its £300,000 target after just two days.

Nora Ibbotson also played down a joke her husband made on social media about being “a bit rusty” in his flying.

She said: “That’s just Dave. It’s like when you go on holiday for two or three weeks and get in your car, you haven’t driven for a few days and think ‘ooh’ – that was just Dave.”

Mr Ibbotson’s main job was as a gas engineer and he flew as a hobby, but his family insist he was properly licensed to carry passengers.

His wife also told Good Morning Britain about her phone call with him shortly before the flight.

She said: “I rung him in the afternoon – half past two – he was making his way back to the aircraft, just waiting for time.

“‘I’m gonna take a walk’ [he said] – it was quite a walk from where he was staying to the aeroplane.

“He says, ‘I’ll be back late on.’ I said, ‘I’ll leave the key out the door and I’ll leave the porch light on.'”