Teen pilot killed in record attempt
In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, take off from an airport in Greenwood, Ind. for an around-the-world flight. On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, a single-engine plane with two aboard crashed in waters off American Samoa, with a registration number matching the plane flown by the Indiana teen attempting to fly around the world in 30 days. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Robert Scheer)
In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, stand next to their plane at an airport in Greenwood, Ind. before taking off for an around-the-world flight. On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, a single-engine plane with two aboard crashed in waters off American Samoa, with a registration number matching the plane flown by the Indiana teen attempting to fly around the world in 30 days. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Robert Scheer)
An Indiana teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight has died in a crash over the Pacific Ocean, a family spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Annie Hayat said the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, were on board.
Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for his father.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft plane crashed into the ocean Tuesday night under unknown circumstances. The tail number provided by the FAA shows the plane is registered to a limited liability corporation whose address matches Babar Suleman’s home address in Plainfield, Indiana, west of Indianapolis.
U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said witnesses reported seeing the Honolulu-bound plane crash about a mile from shore shortly after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport.
The Sulemans left the state on June 19 in hopes of making the trip in 30 days to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so. Haris had been flying with his father since age 8 and had recently acquired his pilot’s license and instrument rating, which authorized him to fly an aircraft over oceans.
The trip was also raising money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan.
They missed the 30-day timetable, in part due to food-borne illness, but planned to return home Sunday.
Haris Suleman told The Indianapolis Star earlier this month that he enjoyed every stop along the trip. The Sulemans had made stops throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.
“There is so much beauty and culture in each country that I couldn’t possibly witness all that I want to in the span of two days,” he said in an email to the newspaper. “That’s the maximum time we’ve been able to spend at a stop.”