Egypt balloon tragedy

Video a chilling prelude to balloon calamity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 March, 2013, 5:14am

"See you again."

Those are the final words on video footage that shows, in chilling retrospect, the last moments of tourists as they board the Sky Cruise flight in Luxor.

Their hot-air balloon crashed less than an hour after the video was taken, killing everyone on board except a tourist and pilot.

In the candid scenes, visitors from Hong Kong, France, Japan, Britain, Hungary and Egypt merrily wave at the camera and snap pictures as the balloon is inflated. A young Chinese woman poses for photos with her family.

As daylight breaks over the southern Egyptian city, Michael Rennie from Scotland - the only passenger to survive - says "take two", possibly referring to a flight the day before that was cancelled because of windy conditions.

The group then climbs into the basket, which is divided into four sections, with a middle compartment for the pilot and four gas tanks. The pilot runs through a safety drill with them.

As the green and yellow balloon rises up, a couple are seen kissing. Other passengers gaze around, taking in a bird's eye view of the ancient city.

A single voice off-camera says: "Bye, see you again."

About 45 minutes later, a fire broke out just as they were about to land. A burst of flames, believed to be sparked by a leak from a canister of propane gas, propelled the balloon several hundred metres into the air. The pilot and Rennie leapt out about three metres from the ground.