We quit our day jobs to focus full-time on our love of flying!

If you’ve ever considered quitting your day job and running away with the circus, we can totally relate.

Here is our story:

After years of wishing for a simpler, more adventurous life, FAA-certified balloon pilots Keely and Damien Mahony, decided to do just that. They quit their Florida jobs and “ran away with the circus” to focus full-time on their love of flying.  They registered a new company name, “The Flying Circus Inc.”, purchased a 30-year-old business, and ran for the hills.  Running the long admired Black Hills Balloons was their ticket to a healthier life and enjoying life to its fullest.

Damien, a punny Irish immigrant spent his days flying the largest hot air balloon in the US but said goodbye to his GM position at Orlando Balloon Rides because he wanted more.  Managing one of the most well-oiled machines in the balloon ride business, primed Damien for running his own business.

And Keely, although in love with her Marketing Philanthropy position at Hard Rock International, which combined her love of music, marketing, and charity, walked away from “the coolest job ever” (she heard this daily) to make the change. She traveled the world and collaborated with legends like Rihanna, KISS, Imagine Dragons, The WHO, Yoko Ono Lennon, and U2, but her desire to do something different wouldn’t go away.

Where are they now?

The two together are a dynamic duo. Combined, they have over 50 years of flying experience and 25 years of marketing experience. They’ve flown celebrities, hiked Panama, swam in the Mediterranean, navigated TukTuk’s in India, shared (corny) jokes with passengers from around the world, and made countless friends along the way.

Keely and Damien spend their winters focusing on travel, volunteering, and balloon maintenance. Summers, they fly and share the Black Hills with some of the most adventurous and fun-loving visitors to the area. They hike in the afternoon and enjoy life away from a desk and a computer, doing what they love; living.

Since purchasing Black Hills Balloons, they’ve been recognized by Google, Facebook, and more, for their creative marketing and management of a small business. They purchased a beautiful downtown Custer building to help reinvest in the community. And built a team of individuals who love what they do. All the while, being reminded daily that they made the right decision, moving to the Black Hills to own and operate a small business.

When you fly with Black Hills balloons, know that you’re flying with people who’ve made every sacrifice to be here; to share this day and moment with you. Our hope, however high (pun intended), is that you’ll be inspired to do the same; to enjoy the simple things and take time to smell the mountain air.

Keely and Damien Mahony of Black Hills Balloons