Coast Guard: Wreckage of teen pilot's plane found
PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has found wreckage from an airplane piloted by a teenager who was killed when he crashed during an around-the-world flight, a Coast Guard spokesman said Thursday.
A C-130 pilot spotted sections of the plane's fuselage and other aircraft components Wednesday night in a remote section of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of American Samoa, spokesman Gene Maestas in Honolulu said, and ships later recovered some of that debris.
The body of 17-year-old Haris Suleman was found shortly after Tuesday's crash. Crews are still searching for 58-year-old Babar Suleman, who was traveling with his son on his around-the-world flight, Maestas said. That search is still considered an active search and rescue case, he said.
Family spokeswoman Annie Hayat said Thursday the Suleman family "keeps asking for prayers for the safe return of Babar Suleman."
The 17-year-old boy was killed in a crash just days before completing an around-the-world trip with his father. His dad is still missing.
Haris Suleman had hoped to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command. His journey was also a fundraiser to help build schools in his father's native Pakistan.
The Sulemans, who lived in suburban Indianapolis, left on June 19 and were expected to arrive back in the U.S. on Saturday.
Maestas said a Coast Guard plane was looking for additional debris and for Babar Suleman on Thursday, and was working with two ships. He said the search area was originally about a mile off the coast of American Samoa but has since expanded.
"The debris is scattering because of wind and currents so the search area is widening a little bit," he said. "There's a number of small islands, very small islands, in this area, but it's very remote."
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.