Report: Windy conditions prior to Plainfield teen's plane crash

Babar and Haris Suleman
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A preliminary report says conditions were very windy on the day a small plane crashed in American Samoa, killing a Plainfield teenager and his father.

Babar and Haris Suleman died on July 22 when the plane that Haris, 17, was attempting to fly around the world crashed into the ocean. Haris' body was recovered, but his father's was not. Only some parts of the plane have been recovered.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board says Babar Suleman spoke with a ground crewman before taking off. The crewman noted that Haris Suleman completed preflight checks, and said Babar Suleman noted that the weather was great and that the pair planned to depart. The crewman told the Sulemans that the wind had been gusty and strong that day and into the evening.

The ground crewman reported that the wind was still strong as the plane moved down the runway for takeoff. When the plane became airborne, it didn't gain altitude and was moving up and down and side to side. It banked to the right, towards the ocean, and kept getting lower until it disappeared. The crewman didn't see the plane strike the water and didn't hear any noise.

The crewman spoke to an airport supervisor to say he thought the plane had gone into the ocean. The supervisor had not heard from the pilot after takeoff.

Another witness who was a few miles away reported a loud engine noise and saw the plane go nose down into the water.

Haris Suleman was found strapped to a seat cushion with burn marks on his body. His father was not found.

Babar Suleman told another pilot that the plane had 249 gallons of fuel on board. The pair had planned to depart Samoa at 11:00 pm to arrive in Hawaii during daylight.