Indiana Teenager Who Was Attempting Flight Around the World Dies In Crash, Father Missing

(Photo: Robert Scheer/The Star)
(Photo: Robert Scheer/The Star)

Haris Suleman, 17, was on the adventure of his young life.

He died nearing the end of that adventure, his family learned Wednesday. But the Suleman family now hopes — and prays — that Babar Suleman, Haris’ father and co-pilot, will still be found alive.

The Plainfield teen was piloting a single-engine aircraft around the world under the watchful eye of his father to try to set a world record and raise money to build schools in Pakistan.

Their plane crashed about 10:15 p.m. American Samoan time Tuesday, just 20 minutes after taking off from that island en route to Hawaii, Haris’ sister, 26-year-old Hiba Suleman, said Wednesday.

“They were together and doing what they loved,” she said.

Hiba Suleman and Azher Khan, a family friend and local president of the charity for which Haris and Baba Suleman were trying to raise money, spoke at a news conference at the Islamic Society of North America in Plainfield.

The family was notified of the crash by the U.S. Coast Guard early Wednesday, Indianapolis time, Suleman said. At that point, the Coast Guard had searched about six hours, found Haris but was still looking for her father, Hiba Suleman said.

They were about 23 miles off the coast of American Samoa when radar indicated the plane had gone down, she said. Beyond that, the family doesn’t yet have details, but even in grief over Haris, they cling to hope.

“It is a tragedy of immense proportions,” Khan said. “We are all still hopeful that we will have Babar come back.”

Haris was testing the limits of his patience and endurance on the grueling monthlong trip, facing travel delays, discomfort from sitting long hours in a cramped cockpit, food poisoning and more. He and his father still faced more stops in Hawaii, California and Texas before their expected arrival home in Indiana on Saturday.

But on Tuesday, several hours before leaving American Samoa, Haris still held on to his enthusiasm for the journey, taking time to tweet that “Pago Pago is without a doubt (among the) top 5 places I’ve been this summer.”

All of that came to a sudden, tragic end when the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza crashed into the sea.

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SOURCE: The Indianapolis Star
Steph Solis

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