‘Not an hour goes by’ without plane operator thinking about Sala crash, court told

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The operator of a plane that killed footballer Emiliano Sala described the incident as “desperate” and said that “not a day or an hour goes by” that he does not think about what happened.

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David Henderson has been charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft.

The 67-year-old, from Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, told a jury at Cardiff Crown Court that he had been “severely affected” by the plane crash.


Former Nantes star Sala was traveling to Cardiff in a single-engine Piper Malibu plane after completing a £15 million move when it crashed north of Guernsey on 21 January 2019.

Pilot David Ibbotson, 59, died along with the 28-year-old Argentine striker after a light plane crashed into the English Channel.

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Sala’s body was recovered from the bottom of the sea the following month, but Mr Ibbotson of Crowley, north Lincolnshire, was never found.

Mr Henderson told the court on Thursday that he was on holiday with his wife in Paris when he was approached by football agent William “Willie” McKay, who wanted him to fly to Nantes, but said he was working. can not do. , he told the court.

David Henderson arrives at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday

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David Henderson arrives at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday

He said that while he had conducted the flight with Mr McKay, Mr Ibbotson was ultimately responsible for the aircraft’s safe passage.

“I intended to leave it with him (Mr. Ibbotson). He had taken responsibility for everything related to the flight,” Mr. Henderson said.

Asked by his lawyer, Stephen Spence QC, whose responsibility was to ensure a safe flight, Mr Henderson said: “After all it was the pilot in command.”

He said he was not concerned about Mr Ibbotson’s ability to fly, describing him as an “experienced” pilot.

And he said he was “convinced” of concerns raised by Mr Ibbotson about the plane’s mechanics when it landed in Nantes, where it was examined by a French engineer.

After receiving the news that air traffic controllers had lost contact with the plane, Henderson said he was “very, very worried. Really distressed. I feared the most”.

“The whole scenario, the loss of an airplane that I know of, and a passenger very desperate.”

“I am deeply affected by this news,” he said.

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Police arrested him at his home on 19 June 2019 – the court was told that was just before celebrating his daughter’s birthday.

Mr. Henderson said: “It came as a real shock. I felt numb. It was a total surprise.

“I am very worried. Not a single day or hour passes through my mind.”

On Wednesday, the court heard how Mr Ibbotson never had a night-flying license.

John Overall of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said Mr Ibbotson’s rating for flying the Piper Malibu had expired in November 2018.

Mr Overall also said that he could not find any record of Mr Ibbotson having a certificate for flying at night.

Trial continues.

PA. Additional reporting by


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