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.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Meeting with Paraglider Club Official

Saturday 26th April Well I had my meeting today with the safety officer of the South East Wales Paragliding Club.

We both now have a better understanding of each others requirements and issues regarding our respective sports/hobbies and as a consequence we both will be talking to our respective groups and he will be putting a piece in his next news letter which goes out to all their

I also explained that we are not members of a club as there are usually only about 6 of us regularly flying the local slopes but they may come across other fliers, either individuals or from powered flying clubs, that we have no contact with.
He was surprised however to discover that we were not required to have a full knowledge of air law. So, when he asked me the question about the law regarding a collision situation, particularly when traversing along a slope at low altitude on the slope, I couldn't answer him. I could only say that I would take evasive action, whatever I deemed the safest action to be in that particular instance and based upon my flying situation at the time, i.e. height, speed and other air traffic. But lets say that we are both below ridge level. Neither of us can turn towards the slope so the obvious answer is to turn away from the slope, but if you both do that, then you are both still in a collision situation. The correct answer, apparently is for the flier flying from left to right to carry straight on, and the flier travelling right to left to turn right.

I have now checked the BMFA Handbook and it says model flying is exempt from most clauses of the ANO (Air Navigation Order), which is what I understood.

So he now thinks that if he tells his paraglider members that we do not know air law, that will be more incentive for them to keep clear of us.

He also said that they have some tandem paragliders and that they could give us a flight so that we have a better understanding of what they do so, I guess we could also do the same with them, offering to give them control of an RC slope soarer.

So all in all it was a good and constructive meeting and in future there will be dialogue between our respective groups on the slope to determine our respective take off, landing and flying zones.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Altercation with Paraglider

Friday 18th April (Good Friday) - I was the first to arrive at Fochriw with Phil and Mark following me. The wind was around 15 - 18mph and we had some good flying but, as the morning wore on, the wind died off and we were just left with some good thermals followed by the inevitable sink.

Two paraglider guys turned up and proceeded to set up and launch in the same area as we were in.

Mark had a mouldie up in the air and I had my Wildthing and we were both sinking fast. I was heading back to the slope ridge from the left and didn't have enough height to fly behind me for a conventional landing, intending to just plonk it down in front of me but, without any warning, I saw the second paraglider launching from my left less that 10 metres away and straight into the path of my Wildthing, which, hit him in the leg.

The paraglider headed off to the right and eventually came to a landing further along the ridge as he had launched straight into the sink that I was trying to get out of. He walked back towards the parked cars and I asked him if he was alright. "No I'm not", he retorted angrily and an argument about whose fault it was ensued.

Fortunately no damage was done, to people or equipment. I have since been in touch with the Safety Officer of the South East Wales Paragiding club and a meeting between us will happen very soon.

This isn't the first time we have had issues with paragliders but mostly they have tried to intimidate us to force us to leave so that they can have the slope to themselves but, this is the first time there has been a collision, though I have always known that it was inevitable that a collision would happen eventually.

For any other groups reading this who have had issues with paragliders, please take a look at this link from BHPA/BMFA Operating Code: and get into dialogue with your local BHPA club so that both groups can play happily together.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Spook & Hawk

Sunday 13th April 2014 - The usual four of us, Phil, Mark, Chris and myself, met on the Ice Cream slope at The Bwlch. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze and stronger gusts as the thermals came through. We didn't bother setting up the mouldies as the forecast was for the wind to shift from the NW to West which would mean packing up for the long walk to Mickey's.

Phil had brought his new plane, the Spook from www.flyingwings.co.uk and gave that it's first chuck of the day and I flew my newly rebuilt flyingwings Hawk, which I featured here in an earlier blog.

We were only on the Ice Cream slope for about an hour before the wind began to shift and we began the long trek over to Mickey's West. But the trek was worth it and we had a cracking days flying.

Here is a video of Phil maidening his Spook on the Ice Cream slope and me flying the Hawk on Mickey's. Later in the week, if I get time, I'll load up another video showing some of the other models flying on Mickey's.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Weekend Flying Weather

I've been keeping an eye on the weather over the last couple of days in the hope that we may get some flying in. Up until yesterday, Saturday was looking the best day, although cloudy, wind speeds up to 13mph SW were forecast and Sunday was only about 5mph. Now the BBC are saying Sunday is more likely to be 11mph but with a gloriously sunny day. So which day do I fly? I know Chris and Mark will fly both days but I can really only fly one of the two. I guess I shall have to look at this evenings forecast, have a chat with Phil and make a decision from there.
I need to have a chat with Phil over the weekend as we're thinking about a build project where we both build the same model at the same time. All I will say for now is that it is a PSS project and built from an "unconventional" material. Watch this space for details later.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

RC Dragon?

Now here is something to ponder, a proper, fire breathing RC Dragon, turbine powered, 2.7m wingspan and costing $60,000. Click HERE for details.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Next Project ..........

So this is my next project, the Traceur which is based upon the Le Fish VTPR 3D aaerobat, of which there have been a few variations knocking about, including seriously lightening the airframe as per the "Swiss Fish".

I'm not bothered about having an ultra light model as we very rarely have winds of 10mph or less, so I shan't be making any special efforts to lighten my airframe. I will be looking to fly it in wind speeds of 10 - 15mph, or a tad more.

More info on these types of model can be found HERE.

Here is a Traceur belonging to FWAL, a slope flyer from the Gower area of S Wales.

The Completed Hawk

So the Hawk's airframe is now complete, I just have to add a receiver and set up.
In its previous life a few people commented on how Hawk like it does look when its above you so, I thought I would give it a Hawk look about it, and included some eyes too.
So here is the top view.

And here is the underside

Saturday, 5 April 2014


Big Phil's eldest son is starting to take an interest in flying RC gliders and wanted to build and fly one so, Phil bought from Flyingwings their Spook, which looks a little like a Weasel. I'm looking forward to see this fly.

No flying this weekend

Well as I thought, a misty rain has rolled in and so I suspect The Bwlch will be clagged in. So I guess I'll try to finish off rebuilding my Hawk. I shall post a pic or two once it's done.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Weekend Flying 5th & 6th April

Well it looks like this weekends flying is off, Sunday for definite but I shall have to see what the weather looks like on Saturday when I look out of my window as visibility may be poor and, as a Southerly is forecast, I only have two possible flying location options, Back of Wrecker at The Bwlch, (a long trek only to find that its clagged in) or, Southerndown sea cliffs near Porthcawl, which may be the better option as there's little chance of clag at 100' above sea level.
In a way, it's a good job the lads from Slope Soaring Sussex have postponed their visit until the end of April. Hopefully they will have some better weather then.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

" New Stuff" or Laminating

Back in the spring of 2011, I found myself having gone a few weeks without flying my powered models due to strong winds. So I bought myself a cheap, foamy slope soarer, thinking it would give me something to fly on those windy days when my powered planes were grounded. I bought the Flyingwings Hawk, and it being my first foamy plane, followed the instructions and built it.

I took it up a local slope on Twmbarlwm and I was immediately hooked on slope soaring. I've hardly flown powered since.

Well after 3 years I thought it was about time I gave it a new lease of life and have stripped it of its GF and packing tape and recovered it in " New Stuff", or laminate, which is heat activated and doesn't shrink. It offers light weight with incredible strength, so much so that GF tape isn't needed.

I just have a few little things to do to it, connect the servo linkage, add some vinyl decoration and put it back together again, ie, attach wing to fuz and the fin.

So here is what it looked like in 2011

And then it stripped of its clothes
Rubbing down and filling
Ironing on the New Stuff
Watch this space for the completion