Man who found Emiliano Sala plane wreckage admits he wouldn'

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Man who found Emiliano Sala plane wreckage admits he wouldn'

Postby Forever Blue » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:02 am

Man who found Emiliano Sala plane wreckage admits he wouldn't make France journey in same aircraft model



Monday 11th February 2019


David Mearns located the wreckage of the plane Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were flying in a week ago



David Mearns located the wreckage of the plane Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were flying in a week ago

The man who found the wreckage of the plane Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were flying in has spoken of the moment he knew he could locate the aircraft, and admitted he would not fly to France in the same model.

Mr Mearns, a marine scientist and "wreck hunter", coordinated a private underwater search for the light aircraft on behalf of the Sala family after the official search operation was stood down.

Last Sunday, his team located the wreckage of the Piper PA-46 Malibu at the bottom of the English Channel, before passing its location to the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch, who later recovered the body of Emiliano Sala from the wreckage.

Mr Ibbotson remains unaccounted for, while the operation to bring the aircraft to the surface was aborted due to poor weather conditions. His family are pleading for help for efforts to find him to resume, with a GoFundMe page raising more than £120,000 within 48 hours.

The AAIB aim to publish an interim report into the incident by February 21, while Mr Mearns' involvement in the operation has effectively come to an end.

Now, in an interview with the Sunday Times , Mr Mearns, 60, has spoken about the moment he says he knew he could find the plane - and admitted he wouldn't make a journey to France to see the Sala family in a Piper Malibu aircraft.



After seeing Sala's sister Romina during a press conference the same day the official search was stood down, Mr Mearns says it struck a chord with him.

“I said to my wife, ‘I’m going to do a little research.’ I looked at the weather, the depth of the sea and where the plane had probably crashed. Within 10 minutes I knew it could be found.”

When Mr Mearns met with the Sala family, he said Romina's friend asked him if there was any hope.

"I felt I had to be honest and said, ‘I think they’re gone.’ Romina’s head dropped.

“If even one part of your brain is saying there’s no point, you couldn’t do your job for the families. You have to compartmentalise your thoughts and be completely aligned with their interests."

Ship carrying Sala's body docks after leaving wreckage site



Last Sunday, the underwater search to try and find the aircraft began. An area of around four square nautical miles was split between Mr Mearns' operation and the AAIB to search between them. Mr Mearns told his wife Sarah he thought the search would take around six hours.

But he spotted something "suspicious" after two hours and five minutes.

"It didn’t look like anything else. We were seeing lots of derelict fish traps and boulders, but this was big."

On pilot Mr Ibbotson - who remains missing - the director of Blue Water Recoveries said: "We always talked about him and Emiliano in the same breath, mindful that we were coming up with answers for two families that have been devastated, not one.


"Losing loved ones at sea without a body is a double tragedy. People know in their logical mind that they’ve gone, but there’s always this hope that they’re going to walk through the door one day."

Since finding the plane, Mearns hasn't seen the Sala family. Romina and her mother Mercedes both travelled to Guernsey in the days before the underwater search began.



Mr Mearns added: "We’re in touch every day; I’ve offered to fly to them and sit down and tell them certain things.”

Mearns can’t speculate publicly about what went wrong but added: "I wouldn’t go in a Piper Malibu.”
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Man who found Emiliano Sala plane wreckage admits he wouldn'

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