Teen pilot killed at sea in quest to set world record
An American teenager who was trying to set a world record for flying around the world was killed and his father is missing after their plane crashed into the ocean off American Samoa on Tuesday night, the boy’s family said.
Haris Suleman, 17, was trying to make the trip in 30 days and was due home in Indiana on Saturday, his sister Hiba Suleman said. The teen’s body was recovered.
Still missing was his father, Babar Suleman, who was traveling with Haris and who is also a pilot.
“We’re hoping my dad is alive and well, and we’re going to keep praying until we have a definitive answer,” Hiba Suleman said.
She told reporters the plane was about 23 miles from the island when it crashed. Her father wouldn’t have let Haris take off if the weather was bad, she said.
It is unclear why the plane crashed.
“He was doing something that he loved. He was doing something adventurous,” she said of her brother, who received his pilot’s license in June. And he was doing it to raise money for charity, she added.
The principal of the high school where Haris was a rising senior said the school was deeply saddened by his death.
“Haris’s adventurous spirit and huge heart led him to reaching for this personal goal while also seeking to raise funds and awareness for schools supported by The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan,” said Melvin Siefert, principal of Plainfield High School.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman, Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie, said a ship would aid in the search for Babar Suleman.
He and Haris were wearing suits that could help them survive a water landing, Hiba Suleman said.
The plane’s flight data recorder has yet to be recovered.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza A36.