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Haris Suleman Headshot

Embracing the Challenge

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A lot of people have expressed concern that the journey that my father and I have set out on is a risky venture. Some have even questioned why we would put ourselves through such a challenge. I simply ask them: Why did Edmund Hillary Climb Mt Everest? Why did Christopher Columbus discover America? Why did Marco Polo travel to China? There is a part of everyone that craves discovery and adventure and we have chosen to live out this craving. Breaking out of the routine of day to day life requires bravery in more than one form.

Granted this is a risky venture but in my opinion it is worth it. One could argue that driving to work every day is a risky venture, as some drunk driver or swerving truck could put you in harm's way. Should you stop driving? No. You mitigate and try to become a more cautious and vigilant driver - but the risk is still there. The risk that accompanies driving and other necessary life adventures are no reason to stop living.

I could have easily and quietly gone around the world and satisfied myself, but my father and I decided that we wanted to do this for a purpose and a cause. Why does any explorer undertake the necessary risks in order to accomplish their dream? Because that person has a drive, they have a focus, and they have a need to explore that dream. Not to mention that I will be the youngest Pilot in Command (PIC) to accomplish a trip around the world in a single engine plane. Is this a risk-free trip? No. But with that being said, my father and I have done everything in our power to ensure we are fully protected against risk, and will remain in control in the event of an emergency.

We have taken all possible precautions to ensure that we make it around the world safely. I am an Instrument Rated Pilot in the U.S. and my PPL and Instrument check rides took 11 hours as the FAA examiner wanted to be absolutely sure. My father and I even took the aircraft ditching and survival courses from US Survival Systems, the same outfit that trains the US military. We have two of the best dispatchers in the industry helping us make all the decisions (Eddie Gould and Ahmed Hassan) and we have Star Navigation of Canada monitoring our flight in real time.

They also monitor our speed, altitude and Latitude/Longitude to pin-point our exact location at all times. Furthermore, for all water crossings we wear full immersion suits. On top of all this, we take on a protocol that stipulates my father and I fly and flight-plan like a two pilot crew. Everything that is done is visually verified and confirmed by the second in command.

As you can see there are a number of comprehensive checks in place which allows the sense of adventure to outweigh any sense of danger. Another strong reason, apart from the excitement and fulfillment of pursuing a dream, is to give a voice to a charity that I believe in one hundred percent. There is simply no substitute for good-quality education. This view explains why we decided to support The Citizens Foundation (TCF). When traveling to various cities in Pakistan the deplorable conditions of schools was readily apparent. However, if you take the time to visit a TCF school, the differences in standards that are maintained are clearly visible.

The rationale behind the support for TCF was to celebrate the success of creating 1000 standardized, purpose built schools in Pakistan and to promote this success to take the program further. The children in TCF schools come from very humble and under-privileged backgrounds but they work hard to excel in school. Starting as supporters, my father and I have transitioned to believers in the mission of TCF.

In Islamabad, my father spent time meeting old friends, and catching up with family, while I joined my cousins in exploring the city. The original plan was to fly to Chittagong from Lahore, but the monsoons seem to be stalled in the Bay of Bengal and over Bangladesh. Since we had already lost 3 days, we got in touch with our dispatchers to see if we could re-route and go back to Karachi and onto Kuala Lumpur and Bali instead of Bangladesh and Thailand. This kind of re-routing is not a trivial matter for both the crew and the dispatchers. Now the over fly permits, landing rights and fuel availability have to be verified before we can launch. But, such is the nature of circumnavigation - at times, you just have to go with the flow and enjoy whatever is at hand.