Tragedy in Egypt raises concerns about hot air balloon safety - KMSP-TV

Tragedy in Egypt raises concerns about hot air balloon safety

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It's popular with tourists and thrill seekers, taking a hot air balloon ride in the skies above. But for a group of tourists in Egypt, their balloon ride turned tragic. 19 people died.

The hot air balloon caught fire in just a matter of seconds, plummeting about a thousand feet to the ground below.

Today's tragedy in Egypt is raising questions about the safety of flying these balloons, and it's being felt all over the world, even here in the valley.

Ballooning is a big pastime in Arizona, mainly due to the optimal weather.

Shane Cory, owner of Aerogelic Ballooning, says that after a tragic ballooning accident occurs like the one in Egypt, people no longer want to fly.

"The phones stop ringing, people are scared," says Cory. "This particular scenario was a fuel leak. We have safety precautions for that."

Cory says he has measures in place if something goes wrong once up in the air. Plus, baskets that hold 6-8 people are safer than the commercial basket that holds up to 20 people used in Egypt.

Each hot air balloon pilot in the U.S. is FAA trained and certified.

"Not much different than the airline pilot, I have to go through similar training."

In other countries, pilots don't have to meet the same stringent requirements. Cory believes Arizona pilots are some of the safest in the country.

"I log 400 hours a year. We can get more experience than the average pilot gets in 10 years. We get it in one."

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