Friday, May 30, 2014

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, N20TC:Accident occurred July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, American Samoa


NTSB Identification: WPR14LA309 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in Pago Pago, AS
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N20TC
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 22, 2014, about 2158 local standard time (0858 Universal Coordinated Time, July 23), a Beech BE A36, N20TC, crashed into the water after departure from Tafuna/Pago Pago International Airport (PPG), Pago Pago, American Samoa. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and the pilot's private pilot rated father sustained fatal injuries. Only remnants of the airplane have been recovered. The cross-country personal flight was departing en route nonstop to Honolulu (PHNL), Hawaii. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed.

One ground crewman and his wife met the pilot and his father at the airport to support the departure, and observed the pilot completing preflight checks. The ground crewman queried if they were going to depart, and the father replied yes noting that the weather was great. The ground crewman stated that the wind had been gusty and strong all day and evening. He observed the airplane taxi for departure, and repositioned himself so that he could observe the whole runway for the takeoff.

As the airplane moved down the runway, the ground crewman noted that the wind was very strong. The airplane became airborne, but it was moving up and down and side to side; it also was not gaining altitude. At this point, the airplane had passed the very high frequency omni-directional radio range, tactical air navigation (VORTAC), but was still very low. Before the airplane reached the end of the runway, it banked to the right towards the ocean. Over the next few seconds, the airplane kept getting lower, and then disappeared. He did not observe it contact the water; he only saw the lights getting lower and lower. He observed no explosion, and heard no noise.

The ground crewman stated that he contacted the airport duty supervisor to determine if there had been any contact with the airplane. The supervisor responded that he was waiting for a call from the pilot after the takeoff, and the ground crewman reported that he thought it went into the ocean.

Another witness was a couple of miles away sitting on a seawall facing the airport. He reported that the engine was loud as the airplane was taking off. He reported that it was unusual that the airplane did not immediately gain altitude. He stated that a few seconds after takeoff, the airplane suddenly went nose down into the water.

The American Samoa Department of Public Safety located the pilot's body at 0040; it was strapped to a seat cushion. They reported burn marks on the body, and a strong odor of gasoline. They recovered a life raft, a survival suit and clothing, a fuselage piece, a duffel bag, and two gumby suits along with other debris.

A pilot who was very experienced in transoceanic flights had been in contact with the pilot's father for several months during the planning of the trip, as well as during the trip. On the day of departure, the father indicated that the airplane had 249 gallons of fuel on board, and anticipated a 2300 departure time so that he and his son could land in Hawaii during daylight hours. He had purchased two life vests for them to wear instead of the gumby suits. He indicated that they planned to take off with 10 degrees of flaps, accelerate in ground effect, start a slow climb to 200 feet, retract the landing gear, climb to 500 feet and retract the flaps, and then climb to 5,000 feet and level out. Once the power and fuel settings were established for cruise, they would initiate a shallow climb to 7,000 feet, maintain that for 2-3 hours, and then establish a shallow climb to 9,000 feet.


Federal Aviation Administration - Flight Standards District Office: FAA Honolulu FSDO-13

The family of the family and son team whose small plane crashed off Pago Pago International Airport in July have informed the Director of Port Administration that they will carry out a sonar search of the ocean floor where the aircraft is believed to have crashed.  

 Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele says the family of Babar and Haris Suleman has hired an Oregon company to conduct the underwater search.

The Sulemans have contacted the port director for assistance in organizing a boat that they can use.

Taimalelagi says because of the equipment used, the search requires a special kind of boat.

She said the company in Oregon has also been in contact with her office and once a vessel has been arranged, they hope to come down to mount the underwater search.

Taimalelagi said she ‘s hoping that the company will be able to work with local counterparts in the private sector.

The body of Haris Suleman, the 17-year-old pilot who was attempting to fly around the world in the shortest time was found, however his father’s body was never recovered. 

A private pane went down in American Samoa waters leaving two dead, according to Marine Patrol officers sent to sea close to midnight with a search and rescue team. 

The first body was brought in around 1:15 am at the wharf before the marine officers went back to search for a second body. Apparently the plane had just taken off from the Pago Pago International Airport, said Airport Police.

The Department of Public Safety’s Marine Patrol officers suspended their search for the second body about 4am this morning.

The plane was believed to have only two people onboard.  According to Captain Tulele Laolagi “We found a young boy still strapped to his seat.  I think he was ejected from the plane, but it’s too early to tell as we continue our investigation into the matter.”

Laolagi told Samoa News the entire Marine Patrol Division was called in, likewise for Emergency Medical Services technicians who were called back into work to assist in this tragedy.

Close to 10 EMS technicians were at the wharf in Fagatogo waiting for the arrival of the deceased on the marine patrol boat and it appeared the victim had injuries on his face and body.

Laolagi said the Marine Patrol was assisted in the search by the Tool Shop’s Owner Peter Crispin and his colleague Andy who had on board with several police officers.

Samoa News understands a resident in Matu’u saw the plane crashing into the water and that’s when he contacted 911 for assistance. It was unclear at the time why the plane was at the airport and who owns it, but what’s certain is that while flying out of the airport it crashed into the water. Samoa News has sent queries to the Port Administration Director, Taimalelagi Claire Tuia Poumele for a comment on this matter.

Laolagi said the EPIRB was found not far from where the body was located. He explained that the EPIRB or Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon is a  tracking device that aids in the detection and location of boats, aircraft's and people in distress. The EPIRB interfaces with international satellite system for search and rescue and when activated manually or automatically upon immersion, the beacons sends out a distress signal, which can be monitored worldwide and the location of the distress is detected by satellites.

Laolagi said as soon as the EPIRB was activated he received calls from Samoa, New Zealand and Honolulu’s satellite systems that picked up the signal. He also told Samoa News that Coast Guard is to arrive some time this morning to assist in the search of the second body. Asked if they will have divers to search underwater and Laolago confirmed that they will also have divers once it’s daylight. More details as they become available.

According to a Fox News channel in their home state, the victims have been identified as Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris who took off last month on a world-spanning journey to raise money for charity. They’d planned to spend 30 days flying to cities around the world including London and Istanbul, family friends told FOX59 in Plainfield, Indiana.

In an Associated Press story, family spokeswoman says an Indiana teenager was killed when his plane crashed while trying to set a record for an around-the-world flight.

Annie Hayat said Wednesday that the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa. Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, were on board.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza crashed into the ocean Tuesday night under unknown circumstances. The two left Indiana June 19 in hopes of breaking a world record and raising money for a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. They planned to return home Sunday.

FAA online records for the plane state that on June 9, an additional temporary fuel tank was installed for the aircraft.  It also says that the aircraft was reissued an FAA airworthiness certificate Nov. 11 last year that expires in 2016.

Gregor says the  FAA has an inspector in American Samoa who will be looking into this accident.

A separate probe is being conducted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “We’re working with local authorities in investigating this case,” NTSB spokesman Terry Williams told Samoa News via phone from Washington D.C. today.

He couldn’t confirm immediately if NTSB will send an investigator to the territory.

Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.

See more at:

  The body of Haris Suleman 

The body of Haris Suleman 

Rescue personnel load the body of Haris Suleman recovered from the plane crash into an ambulance. 

Just hours before the crash, Haris Suleman tweeted a photo with the caption, "The beauty of Pago Pago." 

Haris Suleman, 17, hugs his mother, Shamim, before he and his father, Babar, headed out from Greenwood, Indiana, June 19 on the first leg of an around-the-world flight. (Robert Scheer -- The Indianapolis Star) 

Haris Suleman, 17, is seen with his father, Babar, 58, outside a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza they attempted to fly around the world. The plane crash Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (

NTSB is investigating today’s accident in Pago Pago, American Samoa involving a Beech A36 Bonanza.

The airplane of a Plainfield father and son attempting a flight around the world has crashed.

Haris Suleman, 17, was flying the Beech A36 Bonaza aircraft when it went down shortly after take off from Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night, said Annie Hyatt, a spokeswoman for the family. Haris' body was recovered, but authorities were still searching for his father Babar, who was a passenger.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday afternoon that officials were investigating the accident.

Haris and his father left on their around the world adventure June 19 from the Greenwood Airport to raise money for The Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in rural Pakistan. They made stops in several countries, including England, Egypt and Pakistan, in hopes of breaking the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world with the youngest pilot commanding a private, single engine airplane.

Several hours before leaving the American Samoa, Haris tweeted that "Pago Pago is without a doubt (among the) top 5 places I've been this summer."

Members of the family and The Citizen Foundation's affiliate, Seeds of Learning, lamented Haris' loss at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Plainfield. They said they were hoping to find Babar alive. 

Azher Khan, a family friend, said the trip "was for a noble cause. It was for building schools for impoverished children."

Haris' sister, Hiba, recalled her last moments on the phone with Haris Tuesday.

"He was telling me how Pago Pago was one of his best destinations," she said.

Haris was going to be a senior at Plainfield High School. He was known as an outstanding student and a talented soccer player who played for the Junior Varsity Soccer team, said coach David Knueve.

Haris had a way of lifting the spirits of his teammates, Knueve said. Often, he would tell jokes on the bus as the team traveled to matches.

"Haris loved to joke a lot," Knueve said. "He just got the team sort of laughing at the right moments. That's the biggest thing."

The Plainfield Community School Corporation released a statement about the crash, saying they were "deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students ... Haris's adventurous spirit and huge heart led him to reaching for his personal goal while also seeking to raise funds and awareness for schools supported by The Citizens Foundation."

The school will offer counseling to students and staff starting 7 a.m. Thursday at the high school.

Since word of the crash, people have donated at least $400 to the Sulemans fundraising campaign. Those interested in donating can visit their gofundme page.

Haris had recently acquired his pilot's license and instrument rating, which authorized him to fly an aircraft over oceans. He took an interest after years of flying with his father, an engineer who flew in his spare time.

Haris told The Star last week that he enjoyed the lessons he learned through aviation.
"I feel like becoming a pilot has changed me a lot," he said. "It's really hard to get to a point where you can fly around the world."

They were scheduled to return to Indiana on Sunday.

RELATED: Plainfield father, son attempt record-breaking flight
RELATED: For Plainfield teen, flight around the world tests stamina

Story and Video:

July 23, 2014 – The plane of a father and son who planned to fly around the world has crashed, family friends tell FOX59.

Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris took off last month on a world-spanning journey to raise money for charity. They’d planned to spend 30 days flying to cities around the world including London and Istanbul.

Their aircraft went down just after takeoff from Pago Pago in American Samoa. The crash happened about a mile away from the end of the runway and the plane went into the water.

Friends said crews recovered the body of Haris, who was going to be a senior at Plainfield High School. His father is still considered missing and crews have not yet found him.

Friends tell FOX59 that the plane did send a distress call.

Plainfield Schools released the following statement to Fox59:

“Plainfield Community School Corporation is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students. Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman completed his junior year in May and left Plainfield only days later in an attempt to fly around the world with his father. Haris’s adventurous spirit and huge heart led him to reaching for this personal goal while also seeking to raise funds and awareness for schools supported by The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.

“The loss of Haris is a sobering tragedy for our school community. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Haris’s family. We will provide information about memorial services and funeral arrangements once available. Thank you for your concern at this difficult time.”


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana 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.

Annie Hayat said the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. Suleman and his father, Babar Suleman, were on board.

Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for his father.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor in Los Angeles said the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft plane crashed into the ocean Tuesday night under unknown circumstances. The tail number provided by the FAA shows the plane is registered to a limited liability corporation whose address matches Babar Suleman's home address in Plainfield, Indiana, west of Indianapolis.

U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said witnesses reported seeing the Honolulu-bound plane crash about a mile from shore shortly after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport.

The Sulemans left the state on June 19 in hopes of making the trip in 30 days 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. The trip was also raising money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan.

They planned to return home Sunday.

Harris Suleman told The Indianapolis Star earlier this month that he enjoyed every stop along the trip. The Sulemans had made stops throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.

"There is so much beauty and culture in each country that I couldn't possibly witness all that I want to in the span of two days," he said in an email to the newspaper. "That's the maximum time we've been able to spend at a stop."

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 Beechcraft A36 Bonanza 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.

HENDRICKS COUNTY – A Plainfield man and his son are training to fly their single-engine plane around the world for charity.

>Babar Suleman and his 17-year-old son Haris plan to take off from the Greenwood Airport on June 21 and spend 30 days flying to multiple cities around the world including London and Istanbul. Their longest stretch will the 13-hour flight from Hawaii to California.

“All told it will be about 25,000 statute miles,” said Babar Suleman.

Haris Suleman, a Plainfield High School junior, will be piloting the plane and the family said that could break a world record for the youngest person to fly around the world.

“I am awestruck,” said Haris Suleman. “First of all I’m flying, then I’m traveling, and then I’m seeing all these places and meeting all these people at the same time. I can’t imagine something better to do with my summer.”

The adventure is all for charity. The father-son duo hopes to raise money and awareness about Seeds of Learning, a part of The Citizens Foundation which sends poor children to schools all over the world.

“(This flight is) to promote not only the education of the underprivileged, but also to celebrate the fact that in the last 19 years The Citizens Foundation has been able to form 1,000 schools with 146,000 children.’

Before they take off, they have to get ready. The pair took FOX59 out to Hendricks County Aviation on Sunday to show us the plane. They are logging as many flight hours as possible, getting maintenance work done on the plane and adding an extra fuel tank for the long hauls. They’ve even taken emergency training in case the plane loses power over water.

The elder Suleman has some experience with emergencies. In 2008, his plane lost power and he had to land on I-70 in Hancock County. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

“I just did not have any fear, any feeling or anything at all,” recalled Suleman. “It was all very mechanical and I just did exactly as I taught.”

While they both have been told it’s a crazy idea, they are committed to taking this journey together.

“If you have the passion for it and if you really want to do it then you should do it,” said Babar Suleman.

The Citizens Foundation is hosting an International Festival to celebrate the launch of Babar and Haris Suleman’s Guinness World Record flight around the world for education. 

The public is invited to attend on Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Greenwood Municipal Airport on 799 E. County Line Rd. You can get updates about the trip here.

Story and video:


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