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 steve.houghton59@gmail.com . 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.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Sunday Soaring

Sunday 11th November 2012 - Big Phil and I met up with Mark on the Ice Cream Slope at The Bwlch, well, he got there just a little before us. The wind was NW and very light to light but with thermals coming through.

Roger from Swansea joined us followed by Chris. We had all sorts of planes with us, Willow F3F, Cappucino, Speedo's, Weasel, Whisper and Oddessy's and we all had fun flying, even though aerobatics were mostly out of the question due to the light winds.

Mark and Chris also wanted some F3F practice as they are taking part in their first competition on the 18th November. So we set up a course and had a bash.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Wings Over Wales

Saturday 12th October 2012 I met up with Mark in the layby for the Ice Cream slope at The Bwlch just as a couple of lads were walking back from the slope. They were visitors from Wiltshire and were just having a break from flying for 10 minutes, so Mark and I went on towards the slope.

The weather was great with the sun shining and big, white, fluffy clouds drifting by in the 15mph ish northwesterly wind and Mark launched his new, Ron Broughton design Odyssey plank.

Chris turned up with his Odyssey along with the Wiltshire guys and we all had a great time flying until at around 2:30 when the wind swung to south westerly and rain clouds loomed overhead.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Phil decided to get himself a Speedo as he's been watching me fly mine and seeing how much fun I've been having with it.
Last Sunday wasn't the best day for a maiden on the Meio with drizzly, misty showers and a 25 mph south westerly blowing, but this is what happened. Don't forget to change the video quality to HD.

Sunday 9 September 2012


Well, the wettest summer on record also felt it was like the coldest too. There have been very few flying days when I have removed my ski jacket, with wind chill temperatures on top of the Welsh mountains at around 4-5 degrees with a 20 - 30mph wind blowing.

There have been few new models turned up on the slopes this summer, probably due to most people not having the extra money to blow on 2.5m mouldies. I have, however, purchased, (at a bargain price) an X models Whisper, 2m mouldie, which is so easy to fly and would make the perfect first mouldie for someone moving on from foamie models.

Here's a little video, taken on a rare sunny day.

Whisper on Meio Common from Chuck Glider on Vimeo.

Monday 2 July 2012

Slope Heaven

Saturday 30th June 
I met up with Mark at the lay by on Meio Common and up to the top we marched. Mark checked the wind speed which came out at 25-27mph and I launched the Wildthing to test the air. All was fine with good lift and turbulence only along the ridge line.

This was a good chance for me to maiden my latest acquisition, an X Models Whisper, 2m mouldie. Mark did the honours and gave it the old heave ho for me, just in case it decided it was going to do something unexpected. As it was, all was ok. I had to give it a few good clicks of down trim but that was all. Mark had told me not to do anything daft on this flight, I was a good boy though and made a few passes along the slope at altitude, tested the crow, which needed some elevator adjustment, and did a dive test, which showed the models CofG was ok with no tendency to pull out or tuck under. I tried a few loops, rolls, cuban 8's and half cuban reversals and she was fine, and very stable too.

As the day progressed Mark and I were joined by Chris and Pete, another flier from Pontypool. The winds increased to a whopping 44mph, which is more than I'm comfortable flying in, but I had to leave at about 2:30 anyway and left the guys having fun up there.
X Models Whisper 2m

Sunday 1st July
Sunday morning and Mark and I met up at Meio Common but, the wind was more westerly and Meio is definitely a south westerly or north westerly, so we transferred my gear into Marks car and headed up to the Bwlch.

On arrival it was a bit drizzly and miserable but we walked the track towards Mickey's slope, expecting to have to walk the extra distance to Mickey's West, but as it happened the wind was on the nearer south westerly slope.

Mark launched his Polecat and me the Wildthing to test the air, which was still a bit drizzly. The air was a bit slow and patchy but we could see the edge of the dark clouds above us in the distance with what looked like brighter weather beyond.

It wasn't long before those dark clouds and the drizzle passed and that brighter weather was with us, and with this new weather, the wind picked up to a constant 30mph, which on Mickey's equated to a HUGE amount of lift. There was no maneuver we couldn't do from straight and level, point her up, and a moudie went ballistic. We would have benefited from having some ballast, which is something I must get for the Whisper, but the Whisper flew great, I'd got the elevator setting on crow just right, making landings much easier and I enjoyed getting used to flying this new ship.

Chris joined us in the afternoon and flew his Air One, and we all had fun flying the foamies, but the weather changed again and along came the drizzle, and the excellent flying conditions we had enjoyed changed again, so we decided to pack up and go home.

All in all, we had a cracking weekends flying and already we are looking forward to the next one. Now please, can we have some T shirt weather!

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Two Days in June

Saturday & Sunday 9th/10th June
Phil picked me up from home on the Saturday morning, and so with a westerly wind blowing we headed off to Eglwsilan Common, where the wind was blowing about 25mph.

Phil had brought along his Wildthing, Weasel and BanShe, I had the Wildthing, Synergy and Banana and we hit the skies with a brace of Wildthings. Phil had attached his key fob camera to his cap to do some filming, and then later attached it to his Wildthing, pointing it directly downwards to try and capture me flying directly below him. You can see the resulting video below.

Both the BanShe and Synergy are EPP planes from the Stan Yeo stable of Phoenix models and require a good blow to get the best out of them as they are quite heavy. We certainly had a good blow and they did fly well. It'll be good to see how well Phils BanShe does go once he's used to flying it.

I met Mark on the Crest at the Bwlch on Sunday morning. The wind was light, but on the Crest, that cliff generates a huge amount of lift even on light wind days.

I began by launching my Hawk, a foamy wing that loves light conditions, and she flew beautifully with no turbulence in the air whatsoever. Mark flew his Mini Graphite, a mouldie that also loves light conditions, also his Willow F3F and I also flew my Banana.

Unusually for the Crest, there was no rotor and so landing was easy, meaning we didn't have to walk 100 yards back to get out of the rotor, which can be horrendous on that slope.

All in all, it was a good weekends flying, now all we need is some good, summer weather.

Wildthings from Chuck Glider on Vimeo.
A pair of SAS Wildthings flying together from Eglwsilan Common, S Wales with on board footage pointing directly downwards from the model.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

A Contrasting Weekends Flying

Saturday 26th  
Well, what a weekend that was! I met Mark up on the Crest, the wind blowing +30mph which equates to, well, an awesome amount of lift.

Mark was flying his Ballistik, a Ron Broughton designed and built chevron wing, fully ballasted and weighing a ton but was living up to it's name on the Crest. However, Mark over cooked a multiple roll to close to the cliff face and it ended up as part of the cliff, about 20' down from the lip. Ordinarily it would have been fairly easy to retrieve, however in that wind we decided to play safe and leave it there until the following day.

In the meantime, Roger turned up, glider in hand and looking thoroughly knackered. He had lost his glider at the bottom of the cliff the previous weekend, about 500ft down and had just retrieved it. So leaving Roger to recover and catch his breath, we walked back along the Crest to collect his back pack 2 models, an RCRCM Dorado and an X Models Stingray, the later being ballasted to 7.5Kg. Chris then turned up with his Mini Vec and Air One, I think, because he didn't get that one out of the bag.

Roger flew his Stingray, Chris his Mini Vec, Mark his Mini Grahite and I didn't fly as out of 4 models that flew, 3 were damaged on landing due to the horrendous rotor.

Sunday 27th May
On Sunday, Mark, Chris, Phil and myself met on the Crest, but in complete contrast to Saturday, there was barely enough wind to fly in the morning, but then the wind swung around to the south so we decided to pack up and drive down to the Meio.

When we arrived, the wind was still southerly and Meio is definitely a south west, but we marched to the top anyway.

So looking for some fun whilst we waited for the wind to swing around, we decided to have some fun by DLGing Phils Weasel. That kept us amused for a while before we headed back towards the edge of the slope where we discovered that the wind had swung to the SW and we managed some fun flying. We also managed to get Phils latest acquisition flying nicely, a Phoenix models Ban She.

Check out this weekends videos below:

Sunday 13 May 2012

Ice Cream Slope Thermal Fun ......... or not!

Saturday 12th May
I met Mark up on the Ice Cream Slope at the Bwlch, the sun was out, big fluffy white clouds were floating across the sky, and huge thermals were coming through. The only problem with that was that they left in their wake a huge whole of dead air, as you can see from the following video's. Chris in particular launched his Experience Pro F3J straight into some of that dead air. Down and down she went, but Chris kept cool and managed to grab what little air there was and get her back to the top of the slope. Phew!

Sunday 6 May 2012

Mayday Holiday Weekend

Saturday 5th May - Fochriw
The wind blowing a north easterly again, we decided to head up to Fochriw, which is where we were last weekend. We being myself, Mark, Roger and Chris, and between us I think there were 9 different models.
The flying was great with very fast air, some fantastic thermals and blowing about 18-20mph I would guess. The following pictures tell the story.

Monday 30 April 2012

Fochriw Mountain

Saturday 28th April
It was a grey old morning as I arrived up the winding, single track road from Pontlottyn to the top of Fochriw, looking in a north easterly direction.

I parked the car on the grass at the side of the road and walked the 30 or so yards to the edge of the slope, this is the kind of sloping we like, park and fly. The wind was blowing about 30mph and that north easterly was bitterly cold, so I walked back to the car and donned a few more layers of clothing, a woolly hat, gloves and ski jacket.

I took the Wildthing out of the car, switched on the TX and RX, checked that everything functioned correctly, walked to the slope edge and gave her the old heave ho, and away she went. The lift was great with smooth air, not quite as smooth as Hirwaun Common, but almost there.

The cold forced me to land after a few minutes and I sat back in the car warming up when Mark phoned asking where I was. As I was explaining, his car appeared coming around the bend.

Mark took out his Ron Broughton designed chevron wing, the Ballistik and gave that a blast. Chris turned up, rigged up his Strega F3F and had fun, carving tight turns and runs along the face of the slope. This was followed by Mark doing the same with his Willow F3F before the rain came in. We sheltered in our cars, taking advantage of the weather to have a coffee.

Once the rain had passed, Chris rigged up his Mini Vec and gave that a fly, however, after several attempts to land it, the plane was almost hovering over the landing zone when it suddenly began rolling uncontrollably  before crashing into the ground. On inspection, the glass fibre fuselage had completely split in two behind the wing, and just in front of where he had made an earlier repair. I can only think that maybe there were hairline cracks in the glass fibre from the earlier damage which had been repaired and it was only a matter of time for it to break again through stress.

I had one more flight and then decided to go home and have a cup of hot chocolate, leaving Mark & Chris to carry on.

This was the first time any of us had flown off Fochriw, for me mostly because I know the para gliders fly from there also, but I'll certainly fly from there again on a north easterly.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Mid April Flying

Friday 20th April  - Knowing I finish work early on a Friday, Big Phil phoned and asked if I fancied hitting the Meio after work as he was having withdrawal symptoms having not flown slope for a while.

He met me at home, loaded his car with my back pack and models and 30 minutes later we'd pulled into the lay-by at the Meio.

On the top of the hill the wind was blowing about 15mph as we launched Wildthings and Weasels, Speedo's and Banana's into the grey sky. But that sky was gradually clearing, the sun beginning to warm up the ground and both the wind and thermals picked up. The wind picked up to 23mph, gusting 30 and the lift was huge.

Phil had made an attachment to attach his camcorder to a hard hat and so experimented with that, and here is the result.

Sunday 15 April 2012


Hirwaun Common - Sunday 15th April

The morning hardly had a cloud in the sky, but that northerly wind coming in from the Brecon Beacons was bitterly cold.

Mark and I arrived at the mark by about 9.30am and we quickly launched and flew for a few minutes before the cold forced us to land and try to warm up again. The lift was patchy but we knew from experience that it wouldn't stay this way.

Roger turned up with his Valenta Capocino, a lovely looking 2.65m model with carbon wing, and by this time the lift was improving all the time, with some pretty big thermals coming through also. This was followed by Chris with his Strega and Mini Vec amongst others, and then Clarke, a visitor from Canada who flew his Mini Vec and Destiny.

By this time the lift was HUGE, as were the thermals and the air was smooth as silk, but I think the cold got the better of us as one by one we began to pack up around 2pm to make a move home.

It's not often I pray for a northerly wind in the summer but, this place could be truly amazing when the summer thermals come through.

Happy flying people

Sunday 8 April 2012

Easter Weekend

Saturday saw myself and Mark meet up with Roger (Cliff Hanger) from Swansea and Doug from Guildford at Hirwaun Common. The wind was light, about 10mph with patchy thermals, but the drizzle came in from the Brecon Beacons which saw us pack up and go home after just a couple of hours.

Sunday and the wind was from the NW as it had been on Saturday and as I didn't have a lot of fuel in the car, and I was going to be commuting to Bristol each day this week, I decided the Meio was the place for me to fly. The lift and thermals were a bit patchy but slowly improved as the morning went on.

Mark had gone to the Bwlch to fly the Ice Cream Slope, and I had a great view of that huge cliff called The Crest from my vantage point, and so I noticed when the Welsh clag came in and totally covered the area. Mark phoned me to say that he started off flying the Ice Cream Slope but then the wind changed direction and so he made the half mile or so walk to Mickey's which is SW facing, but when he got there, the wind was right off the face so he decided to come over to the Meio. Mark had said that whilst on the Ice Cream Slope, he had his Willow F3F going faster than he had ever flown before.

I had to leave just as Mark arrived at Meio, but he sent me a message later saying that the wind had swung round to the favoured SW slope on Meio and that his Willow had been flying stupidly fast. He's certainly getting the hang of flying that model, which is a fabulous entry level F3F ship.

Until next time, happy flying.


Monday 26 March 2012

The Wrecker - Sunday 25th March 2012

Sunday morning dawned a beautiful, warm sunny day and I headed up to the Bwlch. Mark was already on his way according to the text message I had received from him earlier. . The wind had been forecasted as easterly, but when I arrived, Mark was already landing his Graupner Mini Graphite on the landing zone for the Wrecker which is north east facing. . Mark and I had several flights in the 15mph wind and it must have been around midday as Chris arrived. .
The Wrecker isn't called the Wrecker for nothing. Because the rotor on that slope is so bad, you have to walk 100 yards to the right of the flying position, to the lay-by, then cross the road behind you, then walk 100 yards up the slope behind you in order to land the model in one piece. So as I was walking towards the lay-by, my foot went into a hole and I almost twisted my ankle and fell over, whilst still flying the Synergy. Then as I got to the lay-by I lost the lift and the plane suddenly began to sink like a stone. I tried to get it back to the ridge where I was prepared to take my chances with any rotor rather than lose it on the cliff but, there wasn't enough air flow over the wings for the ailerons to work properly and she ended up inverted, on a ledge about 50' below. Gutted!
Chris flew his Dogan, Mark his Willow, then Chris again with his Strega before I decided to fly my Beevolution, foam chevron wing. . The Beevo was pilot error! I'd performed a roll very close to the cliff face but must have over cooked it because she went inverted again. I pulled in up elevator to bring it level and bring her up but not before she hit the cliff, again about 50' below the ridge. Double gutted! How could I have managed to do that twice! . Mark is contacting the rock climber guys who rescued his Balistik off the Crest to see if they can retrieve both models for me. The Beevo I think will definitley test their climbing skills lol. .  Steve

Friday 23 March 2012

Hirwaun Common 18/03/12

With a northerly wind forecast, the plan would normally have been to fly the VR98 slope at the Bwlch, but there was an F3F competition on there so we had to have a re-think.

I remembered previously driving past the Tower Colliery, heading south from the Heads of the Valley's road at Hirwaun and noticing the north facing slopes there. So with that in mind, Mark and I met up at Tesco, near to the Trefforest Industrial Estate on the A470 and set off through Pontypridd, Porth, Treorchy, Treherbert and then up the Rhigos mountain road to the snack van lay-by where we met up with Roger (Cliff Hanger) from Swansea who had flown the area before.

Roger showed us the way, along the road for maybe 150 yards, then turning off to head across the mostly flat common following a north west facing slope. After about 15 minutes we reached a white post stuck in the ground where the slope was now facing north and the 15mph wind was blowing straight into our faces.

I was the first to launch and my trusty Wildthing rose quickly into the air. Immediately I knew this was going to be fabulous flying with no turbulence at all. Landing was also a doddle with no rotor to talk about. Roger launched his Pshyco, followed by Mark with his Mini Graphite and Willow.

Roger left us after about an hour but Mark and I stayed on. As the day progressed, the wind did pick up just a little but the big thermals came rolling in and Mark was having a blast, taking the Mini Graphite up really high before powering down to perform HUGE loops and whistling past the slope face at high speed.

All to soon is was time to pack up and walk back to our cars, but we just know that if there's a north or north westerly blowing, we'll be going back there.

Here's the video


HIRWAUN COMMON from Chuck Glider on Vimeo.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Mooching on Meio

19th February 2012

Mark, Phil and myself met up at Meio for a few hours flying and we also met up with Andrew Dowden, who Phil and I had spoken with on the modelflying.co.uk web site forum. Andrew hadn't flown the slope before and he had been given an old Zagi chevron wing which he had a go flying. Chris joined in with the fun a little later and apparently, after Phil and I left, the big thermals came through and Chris was able to fly his Dogan F3B for about 40 minutes away from the slope and over the flat top of Meio.

Here is the video of Andrew Dowden making his first slope flight, Phil giving his new Speedo its maiden flight, and Mark flying his trusty Willow F3F

MOOCHING ON MEIO from Steve Houghton on Vimeo.