Well last weekend saw the first PSSA Fly for Fun weekend take place at the Bwlch in S. Wales. The weather conditions were far from perfect, but I think all those who attended had a good time.
Friday evening saw me checking out XC Weather and being totally dismayed at what I was seeing.
Wind speed at Cardiff Airport 4 mph northerly, moving to north east, then south east, then to westerly. What the heck was I going to do with that?
The Bwlch is over 1000' above sea level so I was hoping that the wind speed would be around 12 mph up there. I was also thinking that the best option was to begin on the southern end of the Crest, facing north east, then move with the shifting wind along the slope until we reached the most northerly point which faces south easterly, as long as the forecast was correct. Then when the wind shifted to westerly, give up flying for the day rather than hump all the models over to the westerly face of Mickey's.
So early Saturday morning saw me sat in the car at the Wrecker lay-by with the windmills across the valley pointing and turning, albeit very slowly, in a south westerly direction, which actually pleased me in as much as it made the choice of slope simple, but so much for the weather forecast. Which just goes to show that you can't look at the forecast a week or more before a flying event and confidently know for sure that the forecast is going to be correct.
I drove down to the Ice Cream slope lay-by and met up with Andrew and Shona Meade and David Gilder, and we decided to take a walk along the gravel track up to the south west facing slope of Mickey's, where there was hardly a breath of wind. Fortunately we had pre-empted the conditions and brought along light wind and electric powered gliders, and it was obvious there would not be any PSS models flying that day.
We walked back down to the lay-by to collect our models and we were joined by Olly P and a couple of local lads, Roy and Alan, who had seen my posts on this blog, and we all headed up to Mickey's.
Considering the grass was barely moving in the pits, there was more lift than any of us expected, which just goes to show the quality of the slope, and models were duly launched.
The para gliders also decided to join us on the slope that day, fortunately they kept away from us, and we kept away from them. I'm sure the chat I had with their Heath & Safety Officer last year has helped with that enourmously as previously they would have had no qualms about flying along the ridge right in front of us. My thanks to the para glider pilots for this.
As the morning progressed, so the wind slowly began to increase, and with it the thermals as the ground warmed up in the glorious sunshine. We were also joined by Clive Jones, another local flyer who had brought along a couple of foamie models.
By the afternoon we had 12 mph winds, which doesn't sound like a lot, but the lift produced on this slope is much more than you would see from other slopes. The electric powered models were put away and the pure gliders were batting along the slope nicely, and getting great lift in the booming thermals coming through. We even had a visit from a passing RAF SAR Sea King as it flew up through the Ogmore Valley.
Sunday saw us meeting up once again at the Ice Cream Slope lay-by, and it was obvious that the forecast was correct this time, 9 mph south westerly at Cardiff Airport. However, there was a good deal of clag heading up the Ogmore Valley and up and over the Bwlch, but I was confident that the sun would burn this off.
This time Saturdays flyers were joined by Phil Cooke, Phil May and his son Josh, and we headed back up to Mickey's, where we could see that the clag was becoming patchy and beginning to dissipate.
We measured the wind speed at about 11 mph and Phil Cooke, undeterred, threw his Jet Provost off the slope, and although he had to keep it very tight to the ridge from time to time, in order not to lose sight of it in the clag, he had a good long flight back and forth along the ridge, looping and rolling as it went.
Shortly afterwards, the clag had gone, the para gliders had arrived again, but they were struggling in the ever increasing wind, and we were flying everything we had carried to the slope. By midday the para gliders had given up and gone home as the wind was too strong for them.
By early afternoon we had about 17 mph, but no thermals as there was a lot of cloud cover, and there were several models which had their maiden flights. We were also joined by Roddy from Bath who had seen my posts on this blog regarding the event and brought his Vulcan Bomber along. This I believe was built from the same plans as the Vulcan owned by Peter Garsden. Mark Williams, our local Kamikaze flyer, also joined us with his Race M F3F ship and his usual brand of humour.
Phil May had bought a Jet Provost from Andrew Meade and he threw that off, along with another version of the MB-326 Aermacchi Impala built from correx. Andrew maidened his Horton, and what a superb looking model that is, and he was obviously enjoying flying it. I maidened my recently acquired Hawker Typhoon, which flew so brilliantly and easily. I know I'm going to enjoy flying that at future events, dropping bombs and rockets as I go. David Gilder also had great success flying his FedEx A380, which looked superb in the air.
After everyone had had their fill, we packed up and walked back to the car park.
I think everyone who came along and flew enjoyed themselves, and the flying, and feel that the Bwlch is a venue that they will be happy to come back to for future PSSA events.
About A470 Soaring
This is the blog for a few guys who spend their time flying radio controlled gliders, or slope soarer's, from the many and varied slopes around SE Wales.
This usually begins at the northern end of Cardiff, driving north up the A470 up to the Heads of the Valley's and the southern fringe of the Brecon Beacons. But the A470 road continues its windy way all the way to N Wales.
There are many slopes available for most wind directions, the most famous being the area between Nant-y-Moel and Treorchi known as The Bwlch, which has some of the best slopes and flying in Europe with many F3F competitions being held there each year and visited by many fliers from Europe and around the world. At 1500 feet (450m) above sea level, there is usually more wind than not, and certainly more than at sea level.
If you require any further information, are new to slope soaring or are visiting the area, please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org . I look forward to hearing from you.
Take a look at Page 2 (look below and to the left here) for Google maps of our most popular Flying Sites.