The Indiana father and son tragically killed when their single-engine plane plunged into the South Pacific Ocean last month nosedived amid strong winds, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday. The Beechcraft Bonanza — carrying 17-year-old pilot Haris Suleman and father Babar Suleman — became airborne as it departed the Pago Pago airport in American Samoa around 10 p.m. local time on July 22. A ground crewman noted that the plane was “moving up and down and side to side [and] was not gaining altitude,” National Transportation Safety Board investigators said.
The report didn’t specify how high the six-seater had reached, but witnesses said it kept falling lower and lower before crashing nose down. One witness reported that “the engine was loud as the airplane was taking off,” the report found. It’s still unclear what caused the small plane to crash. Haris Suleman’s body was found with burn marks and there was a strong odor of gasoline, according to the NTSB. Search teams were unable to find 58-year-old Babar Suleman’s body, and only some of the wreckage was recovered. Haris Suleman was attempting to fly around the world to become the youngest pilot in command to do so with just one other person on board.
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