Haris Suleman, a 17-year-old pilot from Indiana, was killed when his plane crashed shortly after taking off from American Samoa. He was in the midst of a record attempt for the fastest flight around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command. He was flying with his father, Babar Suleman, who is presumed dead even though his body hasn’t been located.
Haris, who earned his pilot’s license and instrument rating in June, was set to complete his trip on Sunday. Despite experiencing food poisoning and other setbacks along the way, Haris remained positive about his goal when writing a Huffington Post blog on July 15: “Why does any explorer undertake the necessary risks in order to accomplish their dream? Because that person has a drive, they have a focus, and they have a need to explore that dream.”
The Suleman family told The Indianapolis Star they were supportive of Haris’ mission, despite inherent risks for any pilot. They said Haris and Babar also took precautions to protect themselves, such as taking a water emergency class before their trip and wearing protecting “Gumby suits” when flying over oceans.
Hiba Suleman said the family takes comfort in knowing her father and brother “were together and doing what they loved.” They are also proud that Haris’ trip raised more than $500,000 for The Citizens Foundation, which builds schools in Babar’s native Pakistan.
Haris and Babar stopped in Pakistan during their odyssey. Haris wrote of the experience during his July 15 blog post…
“The children in TCF (The Citizens Foundation) schools come from very humble and under-privileged backgrounds but they work hard to excel in school. Starting as supporters, my father and I have transitioned to believers in the mission of TCF,” he said last week. “There is simply no substitute for good-quality education.”