PLAINFIELD, Indiana — Haris Suleman has faced the heat of the desert, food poisoning and flight delays in his journey around the world.
The 17-year-old Plainfield teen and his father, Babar, are nearing the end of their flight around the world in a single-engine plane. The pair took off on June 19 in hopes of breaking a world record and raising money for a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. On Wednesday they were in Bali, five days behind schedule. They plan to return home on July 27.
The Sulemans aimed to make 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 Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/UjpWHW ). Neither record exists for a single-engine airplane, though there is a record for youngest person to fly solo around the world that a South Dakota teen broke recently.
Although the Sulemans will not meet their goal in 30 days, they still could qualify for both records if the Guinness World Records committee approves their application.
For Haris Suleman, a recently certified pilot, the experience has been a test of his strengths.
"The biggest challenge has been keeping my cool with all of the disorganization and sitting in that tight space for so long," he said in an email to the Star. "My patience has been tried time and time again."
The Sulemans have made stops throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Suleman said he has spent hours on almost every tarmac waiting for fuel since he left England. He waited five hours in the United Arab Emirates. He also suffered food poisoning twice in one week, during stops in Pakistan and Malaysia.
Suleman said the obstacles he has faced opened his eyes to the differences between the United States' aviation system and those in other countries. Still, he said, he has enjoyed every stop.
"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. "That's the maximum time we've been able to spend at a stop."
Through the trip, the Sulemans have raised more than $500,000 for the nonprofit, the Citizen Foundation. Suleman volunteers with an affiliated organization in Indiana, Seeds of Learning. Despite being sick, he was able to visit one school built by TCF and one of its regional headquarters.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com