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[MUST READ] 17-Year-Old Pilot Haris Suleman's Noble Quest Ends In Fatal Crash

The 17-year-old was attempting to fly around the world in 30 days and set a record as the youngest pilot to do so in the shortest amount of time.

Cover image via nationalpost.com

On 19 June 2014, 17-year-old Haris Suleman (seen here with his father Babar Suleman standing next to their plane at an airport In Greenwood, Indiana) took off for an around-the-world flight

On 23 July 2014, the single-engine plane that Haris was flying with his father onboard crashed in waters off American Samoa

Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, take a photo in the cockpit of their single-engine plane.

Image via mshcdn.com

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. An aerial endeavor that would take 17-year-old pilot Haris Suleman and his father, Babar, around the world in just 30 days and into the record books. The journey, months in the planning, would take the pair on a 26,500-mile odyssey, with 25 stops planned in 15 countries. The aim was to raise funds for a charity in Pakistan that helps poverty-stricken children go to school.

cnn.com

Instead, the American teenager is now confirmed dead and his father is missing after their plane crashed into the ocean off American Samoa on Tuesday night.

people.com

"He was doing something that he loved. He was doing something adventurous," sister Hiba Suleman said of Haris, who received his pilot's license in June. "He was doing it for a good cause."

Hiba Suleman, the daughter of the still-missing Babar Suleman, asks for assistance Thursday, July 24, 2014, in finding her father.

Image via gannett-cdn.com

Haris had been due home in Indiana on Saturday, his sister Hiba Suleman told reporters Wednesday. His body has been recovered, she said. But their father, also a pilot, has not been found.

cnn.com

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 or why the duo took off at night.

mashable.com

Haris knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot also believed dreams aren't achieved without taking chances.

Haris during his four-day stop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Image via flyaroundtheworldin30days.com

“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,” he wrote in a July 15 blog for The Huffington Post.

nationalpost.com

As plans for welcome-home celebrations shifted to mourning, family and friends defended the pair's mission, saying they had known the dangers when they set out to break a record while raising money to help build schools in Babar's native Pakistan

Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks.

Image via nationalpost.com

“It was an absolutely noble cause that they took this journey on, and they knew the dangers,” said family friend Azher Khan, who spoke during a news conference Wednesday in Plainfield, Indiana, where the Sulemans lived.

cnn.com

Babar Suleman had long dreamed of flying around the world. He and his son decided to make the adventure a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, which has built 1,000 schools in Pakistan.

nationalpost.com

They also hoped to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so

n this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, take off from an airport in Greenwood, Ind. for an around-the-world flight.

Image via mshcdn.com

The duo planned the trip carefully. They took classes in how to survive an ocean landing and packed a life raft with food and other supplies in case they had to bail out over water. They calculated their fuel needs and plotted their course, arranging stops in Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, before setting out June 19.

people.com

“With a trip like this, there’s always a risk, and they did prepare for that risk,” Hiba Suleman said of her brother and father. “You can plan all you want, but sometimes things just don’t happen the way you planned.”

nationalpost.com

But others questioned the wisdom of putting a 17-year-old at the controls for such a grueling journey

“I would put it along the lines of a 17-year-old behind the wheel,” said Carol E. Giles, a private aviation consultant and former Federal Aviation Administration official who noted that younger pilots have less experience coping with emergencies.

nationalpost.com

An inspector for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in American Samoa will be looking into the cause of the accident. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Terry Williams said the agency will work with local authorities on the investigation, but he couldn’t confirm if the NTSB would send an investigator too.

usatoday.com

However, a close family friend says that 17-year-old Haris Suleman's attempt to circumnavigate the world in 30 days really wasn't about breaking any records

In a photo provided by Citizens Foundation, Haris Suleman, center right, in blue shirt, and his father, Babar Suleman, center left, stand with the plane in early July 2014 in Pakistan that they were flying on an around-the-world trip

Image via nationalpost.com

“He said that he would not be in the U.S. if it wasn't for the education that his father got in Pakistan,” says Azher Khan, a close family friend. “And he wanted to raise awareness about impoverished children there.”

time.com

As family members and friends gather at the Suleman home in Plainfield, Ind., their Ramadan prayers have been tinged with memories of their lost family members. “It was a noble cause and that is something that is important,” Khan says of the inspiration for the trip that led to Haris’ death.

usatoday.com

17-year-old Haris, a free spirit boy, was the youngest of the Sulemans' three children, all of whom were born in the U.S. after the family emigrated from Pakistan

Haris began flying with his father when he was just eight years old and received his pilot’s license in June. The around-the-world trip was planned as a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan.

time.com

During the trip, Haris occasionally blogged for the Huffington Post. On 16 July, he wrote a piece explaining why the spirit of the trip was more important than its risks:

Flight attire at the ready but the real question is astronaut or pilot?

Image via twimg.com

A lot of people have expressed concern that the journey that my father and I have set out on is a risky venture. Some have even questioned why we would put ourselves through such a challenge. I simply ask them: Why did Edmund Hillary Climb Mt Everest? Why did Christopher Columbus discover America? Why did Marco Polo travel to China? There is a part of everyone that craves discovery and adventure and we have chosen to live out this craving. Breaking out of the routine of day to day life requires bravery in more than one form.

huffingtonpost.co.uk

Granted this is a risky venture but in my opinion it is worth it. One could argue that driving to work every day is a risky venture, as some drunk driver or swerving truck could put you in harm's way. Should you stop driving? No. You mitigate and try to become a more cautious and vigilant driver - but the risk is still there. The risk that accompanies driving and other necessary life adventures are no reason to stop living.

huffingtonpost.co.uk

Adventure for the sake of a good cause is a Suleman family tradition. While in the Peace Corps, Haris' older brother climbed Mount Kilamanjaro for charity, despite breaking his hand shortly before the ascent.

The teen's 26-year-old sister, Hiba Suleman said her older brother was trying to fly to American Samoa to bring back her Haris' remains. She also said the family is hopeful that Babar Suleman might be alive.

time.com

A while back, there was another boy in Pakistan, 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan, who threw himself on a suicide bomber, thus saving 2,000 of his schoolmates

Meanwhile, 2014 plane tragedies have claimed 700 lives