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.

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.