Sala: David Henderson says 'not a day or hour goes by' where he doesn't think about fatal crash

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The operator of a plane which crashed killing footballer Emiliano Sala has said “not a day or hour goes by” that he does not think about the incident.

David Henderson, of Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is on trial charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft.

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The 67-year-old, who began his evidence at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday, told the jury he had been “badly affected” since the plane crash.

The single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft was carrying the 28-year-old striker and pilot David Ibbotson when it went down 22 nautical miles north-west of Guernsey on the evening of January 21 2019.

Henderson said he had been on holiday with his wife in Paris when he was contacted by football agent William “Willie” McKay who wanted him to fly to Nantes but he said he could not do the job, he told the court.

Mr McKay could be “insistent”, Henderson said, so he offered to find an available pilot. He rang Mr Ibbotson whom he claimed “immediately said yes”.

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Henderson told the court that while he had organised the flight with Mr McKay, Mr Ibbotson was ultimately responsible for the safe passage of the aircraft.

“My intention was to leave it with him (Mr Ibbotson). He had taken over responsibility of everything related to the flight,” Henderson said.

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

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

And he added he was “reassured” about concerns raised by Mr Ibbotson, about the aircraft’s mechanics, after 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 concerned. Distressed really. I feared the worst”.

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

“I was badly affected by the news,” he added.

Police arrested him at his home on June 19 2019 just before he had been due to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, the court was told.

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

“I’ve had huge anxiety. Not a day or hour goes by without it being in my mind.”

The trial continues.
 

steve davies

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What complete and utter Kent of a man blaming the dead pilot who obviously can’t defend himself.
the fact that he employed a pilot without a license and despite the fact that the owner of the plane asked him specifically never to use that pilot ever again he lays the blame at the feet of the dead man . What a classless prick I hope he gets used like a rag doll when he goes down
 

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There are accidents and avoidable accidents/incidents. This was very much avoidable and driven by greed.

It's been quite clear that he was aware that Ibbotson should NOT have been flying the plane, especially in the conditions and time of day.

We are all sorry when we fuck up and get caught.
 

Wavey

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I thought the CAA/AAIB report stated that the plane wasn't checked over by an engineer during it's time at Nantes Airport

Update: The engineer only 'examined' the brakes, and that was only as far as pressing the brake pedals. None of the other faults were looked at.
 
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BSP

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Liono

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It’s very obvious that all he is thinking about is himself, not his part in the deaths of others. He was told the pilot wasn’t to fly the plane yet made it happen.
 

Wavey

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"Henderson told the court that while he had organised the flight with Mr McKay, Mr Ibbotson was ultimately responsible for the safe passage of the aircraft"

Incorrect. It is both the responsibility of the pilot and the operator to ensure that all licences held by the pilot in charge of the flight are valid
 
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Heisenberg

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It’s very obvious that all he is thinking about is himself, not his part in the deaths of others. He was told the pilot wasn’t to fly the plane yet made it happen.
Yep. I'd be thinking about it every hour of every day if I'd been somewhat responsible for the deaths of two people too.

Guilt and being worried about the consequences would be two of the reasons for me to be haunted by it... But it's obvious that he is only thinking of the latter and has shown no remorse or taken any responsibility whatsoever.

Basically, he's a scumbag.
 

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"Henderson told the court that while he had organised the flight with Mr McKay, Mr Ibbotson was ultimately responsible for the safe passage of the aircraft"

Incorrect. It is both the responsibility of the pilot and the operator to ensure that all licences held by the pilot in charge if the flight are valid
This.

Just one aspect in particular of this bullshit defence that can be shouted down immediately...

How are pilots supposed to be responsible for the continuous maintenance and safety aspects of aircrafts that they may never have flown before?

Not like it's a fucking taxi, is it?
 

BSP

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This.

Just one aspect in particular of this bullshit defence that can be shouted down immediately...

How are pilots supposed to be responsible for the continuous maintenance and safety aspects of aircrafts that they may never have flown before?

Not like it's a fucking taxi, is it?
If that’s his defence it’s bloody laughable.
 

Wavey

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It's the Civil Aviation Authority that brought this case to court. They're gonna destroy him
 

PlumberAde

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What complete and utter Kent of a man blaming the dead pilot who obviously can’t defend himself.
the fact that he employed a pilot without a license and despite the fact that the owner of the plane asked him specifically never to use that pilot ever again he lays the blame at the feet of the dead man . What a classless prick I hope he gets used like a rag doll when he goes down

I have no sympathy for him either. Some people can just be unlucky but this bloke is not showing a lot of remorse. Arrested 2 days before his daughter's birthday. Lucky for him he could celebrate. Did he get a pang of guilt before or after he was arrested?

Looks like he was cutting corners here.

@Wavey has got it spot on.

Infuriating, and remembering that Sala was absolutely scared while on the plane means that the poor lad's final minutes were of him being fully aware he was about to die.

You have to wonder how often this stuff happens, I sense some complacency is at play "There's never any accidents, we will get away with it". Until there is an accident.

Considering his decisions, I hope it haunts him every minute of the rest of his life. Sometimes accidents are genuine, and you feel for the people who feel responsible for a death/accident/injury even though they were not wholly, or even partly, to blame.

Then, we get things like this.
 

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I have no sympathy for him either. Some people can just be unlucky but this bloke is not showing a lot of remorse. Arrested 2 days before his daughter's birthday. Lucky for him he could celebrate. Did he get a pang of guilt before or after he was arrested?

Looks like he was cutting corners here.

@Wavey has got it spot on.

Infuriating, and remembering that Sala was absolutely scared while on the plane means that the poor lad's final minutes were of him being fully aware he was about to die.

You have to wonder how often this stuff happens, I sense some complacency is at play "There's never any accidents, we will get away with it". Until there is an accident.

Considering his decisions, I hope it haunts him every minute of the rest of his life. Sometimes accidents are genuine, and you feel for the people who feel responsible for a death/accident/injury even though they were not wholly, or even partly, to blame.

Then, we get things like this.
Completely avoidable, from when the CAA reported airspace infringements the year before to the moment the flight had to be delayed until the evening of the accident.

Such a sad state of affairs that’s not only taken two lives, but has absolutely decimated the Sala family (given what’s happened since Emiliano’s passing) and David Ibbotson’s family as well.
 

Woody

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The thread on PPRUNE (https://www.pprune.org/accidents-cl...aircraft-disappeared-near-channel-island.html) that started up around the time of the accident was a very interesting read and it's evident that there is a shady industry of these semi-professional flights being used to hop people between things like horse racing meetings and the like.

Hopefully the powers that be are looking to make an example of Henderson, this being the highest profile example of one of these moody flights going wrong.

The cost to the Sala family of this guy's selfishness don't bear thinking about.
 
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steve davies

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The thread on PPRUNE (https://www.pprune.org/accidents-cl...aircraft-disappeared-near-channel-island.html) that started up around the time of the accident was a very interesting read and it's evident that there is a shady industry of these semi-professional flights being used to hop people between things like horse racing meetings and the like.

Hopefully the powers that be are looking to make an example of Henderson, this being the highest profile example of one of these moody flights going wrong.

The cost to the Sala family of this guy's selfishness don't bear thinking about.
I would like to hear the full story behind him not taking the first class flight Cardiff had arranged for him from orly airport that would have got him back into Cardiff 6pm on the Sunday night. Did he defy the club or were we to soft with him.
I also wonder if it comes out in the trial that warnock allegedly used the same plane back and forth Nantes to scout him
 

Arfur Ap Llewellyn Europe

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Was terribly affected by the tragedy...

Except when he felt it necessary to text anyone else concerned 'not to say a word' or else 'it will open a can of worms', or when he jovially posted on social media the day after that he was not flying the plane and was alive and well

:nope:

Absolute fucking scum. The lowest of the low and even his Defence team must be thinking what the fuck are we doing here

:nope:
 

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Bronwen Weatherby, PA
Fri, 22 October 2021, 2:23 pm


A man on trial over organising the flight that crashed into the English Channel killing footballer Emiliano Sala has been accused of running a “cowboy outfit”.

David Henderson, 67, from the East Riding of Yorkshire, is charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft after a plane carrying the 28-year-old striker and pilot David Ibbotson went into the sea near Guernsey on the evening of January 21 2019.

The prosecution alleges Henderson was “reckless and negligent” in allowing Mr Ibbotson to fly because he was not qualified to fly at night and did not have a commercial pilot’s licence.

Although Henderson admits he knew Mr Ibbotson only had a private pilot’s licence (PPL), he told Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigators and the police that he was not aware the pilot did not have a certificate to fly after dark.

Emiliano Sala was on his way to Cardiff City, his new club, when the plane carrying him crashed into the Channel (Mark Kerton/PA)

However, text messages between himself and Mr Ibbotson in the months leading up to the crash show them discussing the pilot’s lack of a night-time flying qualification and Henderson encourages him to get it to “make it official”.

Henderson told the court he did not keep information about his pilots’ qualifications but said he trusted them, including Mr Ibbotson, to fly safely within their ability.

He said he did not tell William “Willie” McKay, a football agent who had asked him to fly Sala from Nantes, that Mr Ibbotson was not qualified to fly because he was confident he was an “experienced pilot who was keen and enthusiastic and wanted to fly”.

Martin Goudie QC, prosecuting, said: “What sort of cowboy outfit were you running at this time that you didn’t know if your pilot had his ratings or not?”

Under further cross-examination at Cardiff Crown Court on Friday, Henderson, a father-of-four and former RAF officer, admitted he was concerned his business would face investigation after Mr Ibbotson committed a number of airspace infringements in the months prior to the crash.

In a message to Mr Ibbotson at the time, Henderson said: “We both have an opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA.”

Mr Goudie said: “Isn’t the true situation that you didn’t want anyone looking at how you were running these flights because you knew you were running them illegally?”

Henderson replied: “There’s probably some element of that, yes.”

The jurors have heard that messages sent by Henderson after the crash included telling aircraft engineer David Smith to “keep very quiet”, adding: “Need to be very careful. Opens up a whole can of worms.”

Mr Goudie said: “We know why you said that, because Mr Ibbotson should never have been on that flight. This is about a cover-up, this text message, isn’t it?”

Henderson told the court he was concerned with the wrong information being leaked to the press, and said: “I was not covering up.”

The jury was also taken through text messages Henderson sent to the plane’s owner, Fay Keely, and others blaming the crash immediately on Mr Ibbotson.

Mr Goudie also directed the jury to look at call logs that showed the people Henderson rang after hearing about the crash, which included Mr Smith, Mr McKay and, eventually, Ms Keely.

He said: “You made no contact with Nora Ibbotson, the next of kin of the pilot.”

Henderson replied: “It would not be normal for me to contact the next of kin.”

Henderson has admitted being the operator of the plane but insists that, at the time, he believed the responsibility for the flight lay with the pilot in command, Mr Ibbotson.
 
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I would like to hear the full story behind him not taking the first class flight Cardiff had arranged for him from orly airport that would have got him back into Cardiff 6pm on the Sunday night. Did he defy the club or were we to soft with him.
I also wonder if it comes out in the trial that warnock allegedly used the same plane back and forth Nantes to scout him
As I recall we offered him a standard flight but McKay arranged him a private flight later in the day as he wanted to say a proper goodbye to his old team mates.

A seemingly innocuous decision with tragic implications because of the dodgy arseholes involved. Ibbotson risked his and Sala's lives by flying beyond his capabilities and training. Henderson at best had a don't ask don't tell policy completely inappropriate for such a business. Comes across as a callous, greedy twat looking to deflect blame. A sad state of affairs.
 

Ainsley Harriott

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How can he possibly claim that not an hour goes by when he doesn't think about it, when his first few hours and days were spent texting people things along the lines of 'Ibbotson's only gone and killed himself and the VIP by flying the plane into the sea' and 'don't tell the CAA anything because it'll look bad for us'

The man is scum. Just as much so as the illegal 'agent' McKay.
 

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