About Us UPDATED VERSION (add to nav menu)
Hello and welcome to MJ Ballooning. This website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is all run my me, Matt Joyce. I've always been interested in hot air ballooning, and it all really began when I went to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta for the first time in 2003 (3 years old). We kept going back each year and most of the time saw a launch take place. Fortunately my grandparents live in Ashton, so when I went over there some weekends I could see the balloons fly over.
2014 - This year I started the website and social media platforms. One Sunday in March 2014 I had the idea of creating a website of my own. I had quite a few photo albums and videos, so on the 18th March 2014 MJ Ballooning was born. Shortly after, I set up the Twitter account and Facebook Page. It was nice to be getting lots of page views on the website and I even received some kind messages from pilots. On the 11th June 2014 I arranged to meet Liam Whitelock, a fellow enthusiast, at Ashton Court. 4 balloons flew and I had a really great time! Got to meet Chris Hayden who was there too. I'm very lucky to have such good friends in ballooning and am very grateful otherwise I probably wouldn't be running this website still today! I went to the Bath Balloon Fiesta Sunday evening launch too, and saw the UP special shape take to the skies. This was also the first year I had access to the arena at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. It was a great fiesta as I met more friends in the arena and couldn't believe I was amongst it all with the balloon teams.
2015 - The season began for me in April as I went to Royal Victoria Park and Ashton Court early in the month. The Bath Balloon Fiesta Saturday evening launch was a particular highlight too, with the balloons from RVP flying over us at the Royal Crescent. I held the mouth of the light bulb special shape open too, it was pretty warm!! In 2015 I decided that going to just a few ascents at the fiesta wasn't enough, so i attended all 7 slots, which amazingly enough were all confirmed. I especially enjoyed the Friday evening launch as we were all sat outside the balloonist marquee in the sun, but most importantly, flyable weather!
2016 - Last year was the best ballooning season for me by far. At the Bath Balloon Fiesta I got to fly for the very first time from Royal Victoria Park. After months of producing a special email guide for the event, the whole weekend looked like a write off and I was very dissapointed. However, though still very breezy, two balloons flew from Kensington Meadows on Sunday morning. I was due to be crewing and flying in G-JEMS all weekend, piloted by James McDonald, but understandably we didn't fly that morning. I got home and uploaded the photos and unexpectedly received a message saying it was possibly flyable later. The briefing was called on so I headed back to Bath. The pilots and crew gathered around the map and were guided where we would be travelling by event organiser, Rob Clements. It was decided we would all meet up in the pub afterwards for a drink, always how ballooning is done! I helped lay G-JEMS out and set the basket up and before I knew it I was looking down over the Royal Crescent. It was a very fast but very enjoyable flight over the countryside once we had emerged from the city. Thanks so much to James for flying me on the only slot.
I had a busy summer of ballooning once my GCSE exams were out the way (luckily all passed!) I trekked up to Ashton Court often to meet with friends and to see the balloons fly. And before I knew it, it was fiesta time again. After months of building up to the event, the press launch was called on at the Sea Walls part of the Downs. Personally I think it was the best press launch since the 1990s. I made my way across Bristol to Ashton to stay with my grandparents for the four days, not that they saw me much. Unfortunately the fiesta weekend was not looking good, much too windy. Sunday was the only good flyable day, but they also called on the Saturday PM ascent. Pilots were ensured the gusts would die down by 7:30pm, but they didn't. No special shapes flew but lots of the round balloons managed to turn into them as the gusts hit the side of the envelopes during take off. Overall I thought the 2016 fiesta was poor, with virtually no special shapes to speak of attending. Good job the 'special shapes rodeo', as they called it in the programme, was cancelled because there weren't any!
Once BIBF was over I looked ahead to the Longleat Sky Safari in September, where we would be crewing for James McDonald in G-JEMS. Me and James helped out with the press launch and crewed on the keltbray balloon. It was a very successful four days of flying, and technically each launch went ahead. I flew on Saturday morning and Sunday evening and loved every minute, all thanks to James. Looking forward to returning this year!
2017 - Looking back on the 2016 season, this year I have decided to go to the launch sites much more, so this year I will be making even more of an effort to always be there. Lots of photos and videos will be uploaded! Look our for MJ Ballooning's Throwback Thursday posts on social media to re-live some of our favourite ballooning moments. I'll be at Bath as usual - come and say hello if you like, I'll be taking photos and chatting with friends as usual. I might try and do a time lapse video if it's not too packed! I always really love that event because it's very relaxed and a nice time of year.
If all goes to plan the Bristol Balloon Fiesta will be a lot busier for me, confirmation soon - very exciting! I'll get round to producing an attending list for the fiesta once June comes around. I've also put a lot of time into updating this website this year - have a look at the 'Balloon Events' and 'Bristol & Bath Flights' pages. Visit the 'UK Balloons' Facebook Page for photos of my time at the Longleat Sky Safari later in the year. Exclusive Ballooning organise the event - an event by balloonists for balloonists.
Thank you so much for visiting the website and I hope you enjoy looking at our social media posts. If you have anything at all you would like to ask me about hot air ballooning, I would be very happy to answer all of your questions for you. Message the page on Facebook, tweet me (@mjballooning) or use the contact us page above to send me an email.