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29 July 2013, 16:13
The wife of a wealthy banker missing after his light aircraft apparently crashed in the English Channel said today she needs money to finance a search for her husband as detectives continue to appeal for information about the incident they are treating as a missing persons inquiry.
German national Sascha Schornstein, 36, who worked for RBS in its commodity finance department, was the only person aboard the single-engine Cirrus plane which crashed about 15 miles off the coast of Dungeness, Kent, on July 21.
Yulia Schornstein, 28, from Knightsbridge in central London, said that she needed £30,000 for a three-day search to solve the mystery and find his body, plus vital flight data onboard using a GPS and sonar equipped dive vessel after the search by British authorities was called off yesterday.
"I have to know what happened,'' she said fighting back tears. "I know Sascha was very responsible. Flying was his passion and he was German and had that attention to detail so I'm sure that in that situation something unexpected must have happened. I'm a little scared of flying but he always took me and I always felt comfortable and we went to France and Germany and he was always well prepared.''
Mr Schornstein had lived in London since 2001 and was a graduate of the London School of Economics. He had logged a flight plan and had taken off from Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire en route to Le Touquet in France but he never arrived.
Mrs Schornstein, who works in the hotel industry and had been married for only 18 months, said the American registered aircraft was not owned by her husband but he paid monthly to fly it.
She said that the plane had a parachute fitted but that has also not been found. She explained that her husband, who comes from Rostock in Germany, enjoyed outdoor pursuits in addition to flying and he was a qualified sailor and diver.
Hampshire police, who are investigating the incident, said today that they are still treating it a missing persons inquiry.
Despite an extensive search by British and French authorities only around ten to 15% of the wreckage has been recovered, including parts of the wings, fuselage and doors.
Sgt Andy Thomas said: "In the simplest terms because we have not found Sascha, this is a missing person inquiry. Although it would appear he has been involved in an accident, we are keeping all lines of inquiry open.''
The officer said that the force was running background checks on Mr Schornstein's mobile phone, bank accounts and credit cards but the results were not back. He explained this was normal procedure in such an investigation. He said that there was nothing at present in Mr Schornstein's background or personal life to suggest he would have faked a crash and disappeared.
He explained it was not unsual not to find more of the wreckage and that the task of locating the main part of the plane had been challenging.
Mrs Schornstein, who is originally from St Petersburg in Russia, said she knew of nothing that would lead her husband to disappear.
"We are very happy and money was not a problem. There are really no problems. He was very busy at work and he was working one night until 4am. He often stayed late in the office and was working on something that was going to finish in July and we were going on holiday to France in August for my birthday,'' she added.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch is also looking into what caused the aircraft to come down in water that was around 50 metres deep. The weather on the day was fine.
Mrs Schornstein is asking for donations to help fund the search. She said that there is limited time to find out what happened which could be of help to other pilots and the flight data chips are onboard the aircraft and they could solve the mystery.
Anyone who wants to help can find out more information here.