Funeral held for teen pilot trying to fly around the world

Babar and Haris Suleman
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A central Indiana teenager who died when his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean during an around-the-world flight is being remembered as a funny and inspirational person.

Dozens of classmates, along with family and friends, attended funeral services today for 17-year-old Haris Suleman. The Plainfield teen's body was found shortly after his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean after leaving Pago Pago.

The Islamic Society of North America attracted people of all ages and all faiths Thursday as people arrived for the funeral service for Haris Suleman.

Family friend Nabel Raazi said the diversity of the congregation was heartening at a time of grief.

"I hope they study about what Babar and Haris were trying to do and what their life was like and understood we are Americans, hold the same values that you hold dear," he said.

Eighteen-year-old Kaleb Preston played soccer with Suleman at Plainfield High School and recalled him as a "hilarious, one-of-a-kind" person whose quest to fly around-the-world inspired his classmates to pursue their dreams.

Haris was attempting to become the youngest pilot to fly around the world in a single engine plane when it crashed in the Pacific Ocean. Azher Kahn says Haris' father Babar, who served as his co-pilot and is still lost at sea, had a saying.

"Ships are safest in the harbor but they are not meant to rest in the harbor," he said.

The two raised a half million dollars before they departed to help build schools in Pakistan. They had a goal of one million.

"Now that it was cut short I hear they have raised their goal. We are really glad the were able to achieve that," said Raazi, who promised "no rest until Babar is found. We have the rescue and will continue fundraising also because ultimately we know how much it will cost. It depends on how long it takes."

Classmates of Haris at Plainfield High School were all given T-shirts that he and his father wore during their send off which read "Around the world in 30 days for education."

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

The two left Indiana back on June 19 and had been expected to arrive back in the United States soon.