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American Samoa crash kills teen pilot seeking world record


The family of an Indiana teenage pilot killed in an ocean plane crash while seeking a world record says he knew his attempt held risks but had trained well for the adventure.

Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman died when his plane crashed after taking off from Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Crews are still searching for his father, Babar Suleman.

Hiba Suleman says the trip had been a dream of her father’s for years. Her brother was also excited. He had recently obtained his pilot’s license and instrument rating. He planned to be the pilot in command except in an emergency.

She says both had undergone training in how to handle an ocean landing.

The Sulemans were raising money to build schools in Pakistan.

Coast Guard watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from the Regional Command Center in New Zealand that a Beechcraft Bonanza with two passengers aboard crashed into the water approximately one mile from shore at 9:55 p.m. Tuesday. Haris Suleman was recovered unresponsive by the American Samoa Marine Patrol.

An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched at 9:35 p.m. Tuesday and is on-scene along with an American Samoa Marine Patrol boat searching for Babar Suleman.

“The Coast Guard would like to express our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Sulemans,” said Michael Cobb, command duty officer at JRCC. “We will continue to do our best to locate Mr. Babar Suleman.”