Teen pilot Haris Suleman’s single-engine plane went down Wednesday during an around the world flight attempt. Suleman, 17, and his father Babar took off from American Samoa Wednesday morning before their plane crashed into the sea.
Family spokesperson Azher Khan told ABC News that the Coast Guard notified the Suleman family of the accident, and that they found Haris Suleman’s body but had not yet located Babar’s remains.
The FAA confirmed on its Twitter account that a single-engine Hawker Beechcraft BE36 crashed into the ocean after departing from Pago Pago International Airport. Preliminary reports indicated two individuals were on board and the Coast Guard had located the wreckage. The agency did not speculate who the passengers were.
The Plainfield, Indiana father and son duo took off on a 30-day around the world trip from Indianapolis on June 17. The trip was expected to include touch-downs in 17 countries, including Iceland, Egypt, Pakistan, and Australia.
The Sulemans were nearing the end of their flight around the world when the accident happened. The duo was five days behind their goal because of food poisoning and other flight delays, but they were still determined to complete the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single engine plan with the youngest pilot in command to do so.
Speaking to The Indy Star by email, Haris Suleman wrote, “The biggest challenge has been keeping my cool with all of the disorganization and sitting in that tight space for so long. My patience has been tried time and time again.”
Still, he was determined to complete his journey, and the 17-year-old’s enthusiasm showed through on social media, where he updated family, friends, and followers on the trip. One of his final tweets spoke of the scenery in Pago Pago, while another gave an update on fueling conditions.
No fuel in Kiritimati, going from New Caledonia to Pago Pago, then direct Hawaii. That’s about 21 hours of flying in two days.
— BonanzaBoi (@worldrounder) July 20, 2014
Pago Pago is without a doubt top 5 places I’ve been this summer :)
— BonanzaBoi (@worldrounder) July 22, 2014
Along with breaking records, Haris and Babar Suleman hoped to raise money for the Citizen Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The duo raised more than $500,000 for the nonprofit, which funds schools and educational programs for underprivileged children in Pakistan.
Haris and Babar Suleman were on their way to Hawaii when their airplane crashed. No cause has been determined.
[Image by Suleman Family]