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Family: Teen pilot who crashed in ocean knew risks

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AAA Jul. 24, 2014 7:29 AM ET
Family: Teen pilot who crashed in ocean knew risks
AP

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. Haris Suleman, 17, 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, July 23, 2014, for his father, who was also on board. Family spokeswoman Annie Hayat said the plane flown by Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for Babar Suleman. The father and son were using the trip to raise money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Citizens Foundation)

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. Haris Suleman, 17, 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, July 23, 2014, for his father, who was also on board. Family spokeswoman Annie Hayat said the plane flown by Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for Babar Suleman. The father and son were using the trip to raise money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Citizens Foundation)

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. Haris Suleman, 17, 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, July 23, 2014, for his father, who was also on board. Family spokeswoman Annie Hayat said the plane flown by Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for Babar Suleman. The father and son were using the trip to raise money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Citizens Foundation)

In this June 19, 2014, photo, Babar Suleman gets a hug from his wife, Shamim Babar, before he and his son Haris Suleman, 17, headed out from Greenwood, Ind., on the first leg of an around-the-world flight that they were hoping would take 30 days. A U.S. teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight has died in a crash over the Pacific Ocean, a family spokeswoman said Wednesday, July 23. Annie Hayat said the plane flown by Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa on Tuesday night. Suleman and his father were on board. Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for his father. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Robert Scheer)

In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Babar Suleman and son Haris Suleman, 17, stand next to their plane at an airport in Greenwood, Ind. before taking off for an around-the-world flight. On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, a single-engine plane with two aboard crashed in waters off American Samoa, with a registration number matching the plane flown by the Indiana teen attempting to fly around the world in 30 days. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Robert Scheer)

A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 from the Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii circles just south of Tutuila Island, American Samoa, searching to locate further debris and Babar Suleman, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. 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 on board. 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 body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for Babar Suleman. (AP Photo/Samoa News, Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu)

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PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) — Haris Suleman knew that flying around the world carried risks. But like adventurers before him, the 17-year-old pilot from Indiana also believed dreams aren’t achieved without taking chances.

“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.

That dream turned to tragedy Tuesday when his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean en route from American Samoa to Honolulu. Crews recovered Haris’ body but were still searching for 58-year-old Babar Suleman on Wednesday.

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

“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.

Babar Suleman had long dreamed of flying

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