Emiliano Sala's doomed flight to Cardiff was delayed for TEN hours forcing pilot to take off at night

Brit pilot Dave Ibbotson had been set to fly the Argentinian footballer from Nantes to Cardiff on Monday morning, crossing the Channel in daylight hours.

But the morning take off slot was cancelled and the flight took off at around 7.15pm on Monday night, Mail Online reports.

It is not yet known why the flight was delayed.

Mr Ibbotson had reportedly booked a taxi to take him to the airport at 6am but a hotel receptionist said he cancelled it and stayed in his room until around 6pm.

French newspaper Ouest France also reports another, more experienced, pilot – David Henderson – had been named on the original flight plan before it was cancelled.

The aircraft got into difficulties while crossing the English Channel and vanished at around 8.30pm.

Aviation experts have told The Sun the plane could have been brought down by a build-up of deadly ice on the wings, causing the pilot to stall.

One expert said: "There are reports that the footballer was texting saying the aircraft is shaking and breaking up are classic signs of icing on the wings".

“The pilot is most likely wrestling with a stall at 2,300ft.

“It is likely, though, that the aircraft hit the water in one piece otherwise debris would have quickly been found.”

Mr Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, N.Lincs, posted on Facebook that he arrived in Nantes on Saturday.

The next day he messaged pals about being 'a bit rusty' ahead of the flight to south Wales.

The pilot wrote: "Was not to (sic) bad when I got there but I'm a bit rusty with the ils, in France now."

A friend replied: "Rusty with the ILS?! I can't believe that!"

Mr Ibbotson added: "You wanna bet, a little on the high side hehe, better than on the low side."

Sala sent audio messages about the "bumpy ride" he was having as the plane hit bad weather near Guernsey on Monday.


The Argentine ace sent panicked WhatsApp voice messages to his pals as conditions rapidly worsened while he was in the air, Argentinian newspaper Ole reported.

He wrote: "Boys, I'm here on top of the plane that looks like it's about to fall apart. And I'm going to Cardiff, crazy, tomorrow we already started. In the afternoon we started to train, boys, in my new team.”

Sala later sent another message saying: “If you do not have any more news from in an hour and a half, I don’t know if they need to send someone to find me… I am getting scared!”

Boys, I'm here on top of the plane that looks like it's about to fall apart

The footballer’s dad confirmed that his son could be heard in the recording.

Sala also text his friends to say the plane was making "weird noises".

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman said Sala had "made his own arrangements" to make the trip from Nantes, where he had played before agreeing his switch to the Premier League.

It was revealed Sala’s booking was made by the son of Scottish footie agent Willie McKay — although he was not involved in the Cardiff transfer.

Neither McKay nor his son Mark owned the aircraft.

Guernsey Police yesterday confirmed the search for the plane has been called off with both men presumed dead.

Sala's family is now planning to fund a private search after pleading with authorities to keep looking for the 28-year-old.

The striker's former Nantes teammates and Argentinian football heroes including Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain are among several high-profile names to have slammed the decision to call off the search.

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