South Korean Pilot YoungMin Ham Foreword
YoungMin Ham was a pilot from South Korea. His death moved everyone in the world because he was in Nepal paragliding. What happened in his life was terrible and mostly not predicted. The fall was tragic, and YoungMin Ham did not end up in the water of the lake in Pokhara but in the land. There have been several claims from witnesses that his reserve had not deployed properly when the incident took place. Likewise, even almost a decade later, YoungMin Ham’s accident blows the minds of people throughout the world.
There are lots of things associated with the life and death of South Korean pilot YoungMin Ham. Make sure to read till the end of this article to know everything you might be interested in!
Who was YoungMin Ham?
YoungMin Ham was a pilot. He had been working in his career field in South Korea. Born in 1970, YoungMin had everything figured out in his life. Like any other person, his name became popular among the crowds once a tragic incident took place, and he was in the news in both his country and Nepal. YoungMin Ham was only 43 years old when he passed away in the tragedy that took place during a lighthearted paragliding session in Nepal.
To this day, the South Korean pilot’s life has been talked about, and it has also been a reason why a lot of potential paragliders backed off from going on such daring and life-threatening adventures for a while.
What Happened to South Korean pilot YoungMin Ham?
South Korean pilot YoungMin Ham was a trained and professional pilot when his life came to an end. The pilot had made several trips to Pokhara before his death. However, his last time on a trip to Pokhara would also be the time he was last alive. Ham was flying an acro when, due to a problem, he fell on the land from several kilometers up the sky. The pilot fell head-first to the point that there was no way he could survive the painful accident. Moreover, there would have been chances of survival had he fallen on the water side of the lake.
Hence, on 7 December 2013, on a Sunday, the 43-year-old Korean pilot succumbed to the accident, with several witnesses watching the tragedy take place. Yogesh Bhattarai, the President of Nepal Air Sports Association, said, “He died yesterday while flying solo. He was performing some maneuvers when his glider faced some technical problems, sending him hurling to the ground. He crashed on the roof of a house in the Khapaudi area”. Bhattarai also reported in an interview that the death due to paragliding was the 4th one in around 15 years of time span. It is quite obvious that YoungMin’s death was no not surprising as accidents as such take place while attempting such an adventurous sport.
One of the main reasons why the South Koreans died has to be a failure of equipment. The victim was not authorized to make a solo paragliding session in Pokhara, and he did that without being granted any sort of permission for such an activity. In fact, the authorities got to know about the accident only after it happened. Moreover, in general, the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority restricts any paragliding activities without a trained operator.
- Dudley Wolfe: The Fall Of American Socialite During K2 Expedition
- Hilaree Nelson: Mountaineer Swept By Avalanche While Sking Down Manaslu
- Noel Hanna: Accomplished Climber Did Not Survive Ruthless Annapurna
- Marco Siffredi: Fateful Last Descent From Everest
- Ueli Steck: Swiss Mountain Climber’s Fatal Fall From Nuptse
What happened to the body of YoungMin Ham after he died?
YoungMin Ham passed away in a tragic accident during a paragliding session in Pokhara. During the time of the accident, the authorities of the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority immediately took charge of his body. Sanjeev Gautam, one of the authorities, said, “The body has been handed over to the hospital authorities, and we are waiting for his relatives to arrive from South Korea to claim it.”
His body was given to the hospital authorities and then claimed by his family and pilot friends, who came to Nepal right after the accident was reported to them. GIN Gliders boss Gin Seok Song, along with many other pilot friends and family members of the late pilot, paid tribute to him. The funeral took place on 10 December, after they all arrived in Nepal on 9 December. A minute of silence for the peace of the dead’s soul resulted in a burst of emotions among everyone present. A crowd of around 200 people surrounded for his funeral.
YoungMin’s funeral took place in a part Nepali-part Korean tradition. And his relatives and friends rather labeled the funeral as “very beautiful”.
South Korean Pilot YoungMin Ham’s Career
YoungMin Ham had always been an active pilot, and he took part in several competitions as such as well. The same year that he died, in 2013, Ham also won the South Korean Paragliding Championships. He had been competing in competitions like this one since the year 2001.
The pilot had been from east to west through the Himalayas in Nepal in a paragliding expedition in 2011. Likewise, his flying sessions also took place in Siberia.
Why Do Paragliders Fall And Crash?
Paragliding, like any other adventure sport, is not the safest thing to do for just anyone. When you are paragliding, you are not only having the time of your life but also at the risk of losing your life, given that the equipment used is not safe enough or has been even slightly damaged. Similarly, a lot of people fall and crash, and in many cases, even die when there is poor glider control. Other reasons have to be poor flare timing, resting downwind, descending low, flying into a hazard, landing behind an obstruction, or a poor approach.
There are different kinds of accidents that take place due to many reasons while paragliding. Not all the reason has to be the same. Collapses brought on by turbulence, as well as aerobatics or maneuvers like b-line stalls, can be one of the main reasons why fall and crash accidents are caused. Sometimes, the pilot, as well as the passenger, is at risk of triggering damage while they are up in the sky. There is almost no way that a fall resulting from an activity like this one can lead to anything besides death. If there is water beneath or rescuing equipment in hand, then there are chances that both the passenger and the pilot will make it out alive though. Hitting the water without any expertise might also lead to death.
Likewise, sometimes, landing accidents also take place. Landing accidents in paragliding happen when the pilot has already landed but in a crash. Such accidents may or may not lead to death depending on the frequency of the landing as well as where the paragliders land.
How Many Recent Cases Of Paragliding Accidents Are There In Nepal?
In Nepal, Pokhara is the most popular place where paragliders from all around the world come for paragliding. The experience of paragliding, however, is not always fun and games. There have been 20 accidents in Pokhara since the year 2019 to 2023. This number is not very impressive given the fact that Nepal has been considered by a lot of people to come for paragliding. Accidents like this one have not only refrained a lot of tourists from doing something as adventurous and economy-boosting activity as this one but, most importantly, also caused serious accidents and even death among the passengers.
Since the recorded year 2019, there have been at least 2 people who died in an accident during a paragliding session in Pokhara. Hence, while paragliding is not the safest sport, accidents at the time of paragliding are very common in Nepal.
Why Are There Frequent Paragliding Accidents In Nepal?
Nepal is one of the most well-considered countries for paragliders all around the world to come for paragliding. It is one such activity that has always attracted not just tourists but also people from Nepal itself in Pokhara. But there are several reasons as to why there are just as many frequent paragliding accidents in Nepal as there are people who are looking forward to engaging in the activity.
Some reasons for paragliding accidents are not in the control of the pilot or the passenger, whereas other reasons include pilots and passengers both being responsible for it. The reasons below will justify the frequent paragliding accidents in Nepal;
1. Flying close to trees and other such obstacles
When you are paragliding, you have to make sure that there are no obstacles on the way. These obstacles will likely hurt you or cause an accident that might even be fatal if too serious. Flying during your paragliding session must be done away from trees and obstacles in a rather clear and open sky.
2. Strong winds
Wind is very often a reason why many people suffer from fatal accidents during paragliding. It is necessary that people recognize the dangers of wind while trying out adventurous sports like this one. Strong winds will push the pilot to his limits, and even the most trained pilot will lose control.
3. Daring aerobatics
A lot of people tend to practice aerobatics with the motive of boosting their adrenaline rush. It is, however, only fun when a person is in a safe area and trained well enough. However, not all types of training or areas can be trusted to conduct daring and dangerous aerobatics in and off the air.
4. Imbalance of speed
Speed and upthrust are very often the reasons for accidents. When someone is not in control of his speed, the glider stalls will lose altitude, and hence there is an imbalance. An imbalance of speed can lead to a lot of dangers.
5. Improper equipment
A small damage to the equipment can very often lead to accidents during paragliding. Every piece of equipment used in a sport like this one must be changed every now and then. Hence, proper equipment is crucial in making one’s paragliding trip safe and trustworthy.
Paragliding Ban In Nepal
While paragliding, which is also one of the aspects boosting tourism in Nepal, is good for the economic boost of the country. There have been several instances when the authorities have seen no choice but to ban paragliding in Nepal. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) a regulatory body in the aviation area of Nepal, has banned any sort of solo paragliding trips in Pokhara. The authorities are in no minds to change this law any time soon due to the excessive paragliding accidents that have been happening in the past years.
While paragliding has been considered very safe in Nepal in general, after two people died in a matter of only 3 days in Pokhara, solo trips were banned. Though there has been a solo paragliding ban in Nepal, around 250 flights take place in peak season in a single day. This shows that paragliding, though considered a risky sport in Nepal, is still one of the most preferred and highly considered activities to do for a lot of people when they come to Pokhara. While it is not quite the sport that holds so much of a risk of fatality in general, there is a chance of getting injured, if not death, when one is paragliding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is paragliding safe with a pilot?
There isn’t always a risk of paragliding with a pilot. In fact, in terms of safety, paragliding is one of the safest when you are not on a solo trip. The pilots of paragliding are very often well-trained and will try to use the safest equipment and only trustworthy measures.
Is paragliding safer than gliding?
Though accidents are rare in both paragliding and gliding, gliding is very often more safe than paragliding.
Is paragliding banned in Pokhara?
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) in Pokhara has banned solo paragliding.
How long can you stay paragliding?
You can stay for 3 hours in paragliding.
How do you manage risk in paragliding?
It is important that a person acknowledges risks before he tries to directly deny and reject them if he wants to manage risk.