A part-time pilot and gas engineer was drafted in at the 11th hour to fly the plane carrying £15million Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala, the Daily Telegraph understands. On Thursday night the four day English Channel search for Sala was called off… Instead, Dave Ibbotson, a gas engineer whose main flying activity was taking parachutists for jumps, was at the controls. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Sources close to the investigation said officials in Nantes, north-west France, had been expecting an experienced pilot who regularly flew footballing figures around Europe. It is claimed the 59-year-old aborted three attempted take-offs and had joked with friends on Facebook that he was a “bit rusty” in the days before.