Indiana teenager Haris Suleman was killed in a plane crash during his attempt to fly around the world. At the age of 17, Suleman was attempting to set a record as the youngest pilot to fly around the globe the quickest. Accompanied by his father Babar, the pair were days away from returning home to Greenwood, Indiana, expected by friends and family to complete the quest for the record on Saturday, July 26.
The 17-year old’s single engine Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from American Samoa Wednesday morning. The U.S. Coast Guard located the wreckage along with Suleman’s body the morning. Suleman’s father was not found with his son among the wreckage located approximately 23 miles from the island that it took off from. It is unknown if Babar Suleman survived the crash or not, and is currently listed as lost at sea.
The 30-day voyage was scheduled to stop at Kiritimati Island, better known as Christmas Island, next. Then, a final stop in Hawaii before the pair would cross the Pacific Ocean to North America and home to Indiana. Nearing the end of their world adventure, the tragic early end of the flight has brought forth questions about the youngster’s readiness to tackle a worldwide flight. The younger pilot had only earned his license last month, while his father had started flying in 2007. The teen pilot’s sister, Hiba Suleman stated that the family knew it was a dangerous trip, but they all believed that they would make it.
The sister had last talked with her brother on Tuesday. She had said that her brother was unhappy with the choice in hotel his dad had booked for their stay in Hawaii. He asked her for his fathers credit card information so he could book a better place to stay. With the attempt for the Indiana teen pilot to fly around the world coming to an abrupt ending after being killed in a crash, their friends and family are understandably in a state of shock at the loss.
Accepting that the young pilot will not return home, the community is keeping a positive belief that his father will be found alive and returned home safely. Azher Kaan, a friend of the Suleman family, said that in anticipation of the pair returning to Indiana on Saturday, banners welcoming them home were being organized after receiving an email from the voyager’s saying that they were on their way back home. Now the community hopes that Babar Suleman will be found alive and safely returned to the community struck with a tragic loss. Both father and son were prepared for a possible water landing, each wearing water survival suits and the aircraft was carrying life rafts. The two had also taken an ocean crash survival course prior to the ill-fated flight.
Following the anticipated return by the pair, the young pilot had planned on taking his SAT test and enter his senior year in high school. Suleman would then follow his father’s career choice by pursuing an engineering degree. The father started flying in 2007 and had talked about this voyage for years. The two used the planned trip to raise money to build schools for needy children. At the time of the crash, $500,000 had been raised.
Leading up to the last stop in American Samoa, the pair had shared the ultimate father and son moments, with favorite stops in Pago Pago and riding camels and seeing the pyramids in Egypt. According to his sister, Haris Suleman was very happy to have this unique opportunity to spend time with his father. While the young teen pilot from Indiana would later be killed in his attempt to fly around the world in a tragic plane crash, and the search for the young pilot’s father is in the early stages, friends and family are taking solace in the fact the two were doing what they loved while helping kids in need at the same time.
By Carl Auer