Raging Thunder Adventures has rebranded its ballooning experience as Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co to tap into the growing number of international travellers booking directly online.
Skydive the Beach Director Anthony Boucat, whose Wollongong-based ASX company purchased Raging Thunder Adventures in October 2016, said Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co would continue to deliver the incredible experience of floating over Mareeba and its farmlands at dawn.
"The number of independent travellers wanting to go ballooning is growing, and research shows our new brand will perform better in the digital market as well as aligning with the international destination marketing of Cairns & Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"Raging Thunder Adventures has a proud history in Mareeba having pioneered ballooning in the Mareeba Valley in 1993, taking around 16,000 people a year safely on the surreal experience of floating in a basket.
"We currently have 14 staff based in Mareeba, including our Chief Pilot Steve Hawke, who has been flying for Raging Thunder for 24 years."
Mr Hawke said Mareeba was highly regarded as one of the best places in the world for reliable ballooning weather.
"Mareeba locals claim they enjoy more than 300 sunny days a year, and the Valley has calm early morning conditions so we can fly year-round," he said.
"Our guests watch the glow of the hot air balloons being inflated in the dark, and they slowly ascend as high as 4,500 feet above sea level as the sun rises and the twinkling lights of Mareeba go out.
"Every flight is different, whether it is the colour of the sunrise, the opportunity to float among clouds, or a bird's-eye view of wallabies grazing alongside neatly ploughed paddocks."
Mr Hawke and his family have a long history of employment with Raging Thunder, including his brother Dave, who has been a pilot with the company for 14 years.
"We train our pilots in-house, which gives our local employees a career path. Just last year, Leif Inglis, who has worked with Raging Thunder for more than 15 years, graduated as a commercial balloon pilot," he said.
"Raging Thunder has made a valuable contribution to the community over the past 24 years by providing employment, using local suppliers where possible, and supporting a range of local charities, schools and fundraisers."
For more information and to book, go to www.cairnshotairballoon.com.au
Caption: Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co Chief Pilot Steve Hawke has been flying visitors over the Mareeba Valley for 24 years.