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Teen pilot seeking record dies in crash

Haris Suleman, at right with his father, was trying to set an around-the-world record.

Robert Scheer/The Indianapolis Star, via AP

Haris Suleman, at right with his father, was trying to set an around-the-world record.

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight was killed when his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean, and crews were searching Wednesday for his father, who was also onboard.

Family spokeswoman Annie Hayat said the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Hayat said the teen’s body had been recovered, but crews were still looking for Babar Suleman.

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The teen’s sister, Hiba, said the trip had been a dream of her father’s for years and that her brother was also excited. Haris Suleman had recently obtained his pilot’s license and instrument rating, which authorized him to fly an aircraft over oceans, and planned to be the pilot in command except in an emergency.

Hiba Suleman said her father and brother had undergone training in how to handle an ocean landing and wore protective suits while flying over water.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft plane crashed into the ocean under unknown circumstances.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman, Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie, said that witnesses reported seeing the plane crash shortly after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport.

The Sulemans left home June 19 in hopes of making the trip in 30 days to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so.

They missed the 30-day timetable but planned to return home Sunday.

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