Welcome to my website! I have always been interested in ballooning, ever since my parents took me to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in 2003. After that we kept going every year (apart from 2005), but as you would expect, the weather wasn't always on our side.
Fortunately my grandparents live in Ashton, near to Ashton Court, so when I went over there some weekends, I used to see the balloons fly over. 2011 was the first year I had a rough idea about the special shapes that would be attending the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. In 2011 on the Friday morning launch, I saw the first balloon come over the rooftop and I even saw a few special shapes such as the Palletways Dragon, Blue Square and the Cockerel. In total I saw over 80 balloons!
Then early in 2012 I started to contact people through balloon websites and they would give me info about the fiesta and other local events (thanks James McDonald!) I started to know lots about the Bristol balloon fiesta and it was at this time when I started making records of past balloon fiestas. The 2012 fiesta came and after a great year of balloon watching from my house, I couldn't have been more excited! I found out when and where the press launch was happening, so I decided to go. I then went to the special shapes rodeo and saw some classic shapes such as Action Man, BabyBel and Choc Dips. Then I stayed at my grandparents house for the rest of the weekend and the wind was going to complete opposite direction, so that was the end of the fiesta for me.
2013 was another great year for me as I built up my knowledge of ballooning more and more. At Bristol 2013, I knew all the main operators and other details. I knew about every special shape attending the event and I got some good pictures over the 4 days.
At the start of 2014 I started getting everything up together for the 2014 ballooning season to begin! And in March on a Sunday afternoon, the idea of creating a website began. I had lots of photo galleries and I knew all the info, so on the 18th March 2014, MJ Ballooning (this website) was born. After I had published this website for the first time, I was amazed with all the page views I was receiving and I was contacted by a few pilots and enthusiasts through my contact form! This has made me become much more involved and now I go to launch sites often to chat to people whilst seeing the balloons take off (usually Liam Whitelock and Chris Hayden). It's great that there are people I am friends with that have the same hobby as me and I am lucky to have found them. I am a member of the Western Region BBAC, so I can get into the Bristol Balloon Fiesta arena.
The 2014 fiesta was brilliant for me, as I met more friends in the arena. I couldn't believe I was amongst it all and I had a great time. What at first was a dreary start in Queen Square, Thursday brightened up and it was amazing. We got 4 good slots in, and there are photos on this website of those 4 slots, so enjoy!
The ballooning season came to a close in October for 2015, but what a brilliant one it was ! We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have. Our favourite moments were the Bath Balloon Fiesta Saturday PM launch, the whole of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and the 2 slots we saw from Ashton Court in September! Let us know what yours was on social media. BIBF couldn't have worked out better for us as we attended every slot and were amongst the pilots and balloon teams in the arena. It was fantastic. You can see our gallery for all the photos of every launch.
The 2016 ballooning season is now well underway and we've had our first ever balloon flight from Royal Victoria Park. Thanks so much to James McDonald, it was an amazing flight. See you in September for Longleat! Even though the Bath Balloon Fiesta didn't have the best weather, the Sunday, which looked far too breezy, made it all worth while. Pilots really wanted to fly on the evening so that all the effort put into the organisational side wasn't wasted. We landed in Chilcompton going 10kts in G-JEMS after an hour of flying. It's a bit of a shame that the Recreation Ground wasn't used, but there's always next year!
Thank you for visiting MJ Ballooning and I hope you come back and check up on the latest Bristol ballooning news soon! And if you have anything whatsoever that you would like to ask me, I would be very happy to answer all of your questions for you.