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 November 2015


Hi all.

I know some of the guys at Slope Soaring Sussex managed to get a little flying in on Saturday, however in S Wales it was a totally different kettle of fish, with no flying taking place, (by me anyway). The weather all weekend was atrocious with gales and heavy rain.

Anyway, some of you will remember I trashed my beloved Wildthing whilst trying to teach Michelle to fly it. I did contemplate buying a new one as they aren't that expensive. However, after having seen Waynes new Mk3 flying, I have been put off buying one.

For me the wing just isn't as good as the old Mk2 wing, which seems more stable and able to fly in lighter lift than the Mk3. There is some video I shot somewhere on this blog where we were flying at Fochriw in changeable conditions. One minute we'd have a good breeze with thermals coming through. Then the wind would die as a thermal passed over and we were left flying in dead air. My Wildthing carried on cruising slowly along the slope whilst Waynes plummeted out of the sky like a brick. If anyone from Soar Ahead Sailplanes is reading this, please revert back to the Mk2 wing.

My wing seems to be structurally sound, it's only the fuselage which took a battering, so this evening I'm going to strip the covering off it and see if I can epoxy it back together and strengthen the break areas with some light glass fibre. If that option doesn't appear feasible, I shall buy some depron sheet and use the original fuselage as a template for fabricating a new one.

Watch this space for updates.

This Friday I'm heading to Crawley for the weekend. Michelle has friends there and it's a really good excuse for me to tag along and go flying with Paul Hampshire and the other guys at Slope Soaring Sussex. So I have four models prepped and ready to go, I just need some luck with the weather. Anything between 15 - 25 mph winds with clear skies would be perfect. Hopefully I shall come back with some pictures and video to share.

Until next time, happy flying.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Winter arrives at the Bwlch

Hi all

Well there isn't a lot to say about Sunday's flying. We were on the VR98 slope at the Bwlch and most of the snow had disappeared from the previous day, the wind had eased off considerably and the temperature was a lot milder.

Phil had brought along a 2m, rudder/elevator thermal soarer with him and he gave that a chuck. Wayne was struggling to get his Wildthing in the air, but I did manage to have a couple of flights with the Polecat, although unfortunately it never got captured on video.

And talking of video, here it is. Enjoy.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Maiden flight of the rebuilt Polecat

Flipping eck it was cold standing in the snow on the VR98 slope at the Bwlch. And I was the only one brave or foolish enough to go flying today.

It was 0°c and the first snow of the season when I chucked the newly rebuilt Polecat off the slope. It immediately dived, bounced off the snow then headed off into the blue sky. A few clicks of up elevator and two clicks of left aileron and she was flying like a good un. 

Landing is usually tricky on the VR98 with the road being only a few metres behind you, and it took me three attempts to get her down as she was coming in so quickly, but get her down safely I did and I look forward to giving her another flight tomorrow. 

The VR98

Safely down

Happy flying

Friday 20 November 2015

Weekends Flying 21-22 November

Hi guys

Well there is a definite change in the weather for this weekend over the past couple of weeks, which have been stormy to say the least.

So Saturday is looking like the windiest day with a N-NNW at 28 mph but calming down a bit as the afternoon progresses. However, the kick in the teeth is the temperature which at Cardiff airport will be about 6*C, add to that the altitude at the Bwlch say, and the wind chill factor, and that amounts to a bloody cold day!

Sunday we are looking at similar temperatures but the wind is forecast to be mostly from the north but about 17 mph.

Both days are looking great to re-maiden my rebuilt Polecat anyway.

I was thinking of heading up to Hirwaun Common as we have northerly winds. The lift is superb there and every bit as good as the Bwlch, in my opinion, but Hirwaun has a first class landing zone, unlike the VR98, which can be a bit hairy with the road so close to the flying area. But with the temperatures being so low, the VR98 may be the better option as we can warm up in our cars when body parts begin to freeze.

What I may do is fly the Bwlch on Saturday and Hirwaun on Sunday. We'll see.

Happy flying

Thursday 19 November 2015

Polecat Rebuild Continued ............

So the project has been coming along nicely!

Tuesday evening I glued the wing into the fuselage and left it 24 hours to set properly.

Last night I attached the elevons to the wing and covered them.

I decided to try using laminate film as my hinging material and cut four pieces of 75 micron film, approximately 3" long x 1" wide for each wing, and used part of the mylar hinge method to attach these. So I stuck two pins, evenly spaced, through the centre of each tab of lam and ironed this onto the elevon, the pins butting up to the beveled edge of the elevon. I then mated up the elevon to the wing and temporarily secured it with masking tape, with the pins now also touching the trailing edge of the wing, thereby creating a small, even gap between the wing and the elevon, and then with full downward deflection of the elevon, I ironed the lam film to the top of the wing.

Next I had to do the underside of the wing, and for this I used the almost tissue thick 42 micron laminate film. This was cut into strips the length of each wing and about 1½" wide. The elevon was then raised and bent over until its top surface was touching the top surface of the wing and I ironed on the lam to the beveled elevon edge and the wing trailing edge at the same time and the excess was ironed onto the underside of the wing and the elevon. Once this was done, another similar strip of lam was cut and ironed onto the top of the wing and elevon. This seems to have made a hinge which is strong, clear, will not degrade or become brittle ....... hopefully.

I have to say that I was impressed with this method of hinging, and if after a few months of flying it is still secure and showing no signs of any issues, then I'll use this on all my future foamie model projects.

It also got me thinking about the way I build foam wing type models, and I think my next model, (that Santa is going to bring me), will follow the following build procedure.

  • sand the foam to make it as smooth as possible
  • spackle the entire fuselage and wing with light weight filler to fill in the voids
  • sand back again to create a smooth surface
  • cover with 75 micron laminate film
  • cover with my choice of iron on film
  • cover again with 42 micron laminate film which will increase strength and protect the iron on film covering but without adding too much extra weight.
This should create a really strong and rigid model.

I then covered the elevons with the iron on film to finish the evenings work.

All I have left to do now is to create a little more space in the battery and receiver compartments to accept those items as currently there isn't enough space for those and the corresponding wires. I have to fit new elevon control horns and connect them to the servo arms, and add some orientation bands of iron on film to the underside of the wings, then Bobs your uncle, it's finished.

I can't wait to chuck it off a hill this weekend now.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Polecat Rebuild Continued ..............

So last night I continued work covering the wing. There isn't really a great deal to say about this as I didn't encounter any problems.

I was pleased with the finish though, when I consider how badly creased the foam was in places, particularly at the tips, it has turned out well.

The next jobs are to cover and attach the elevons to the wing, connect the elevons to the servo arms, glue the wing in place and fit the battery, receiver and switch. Hopefully I should be able to get this done before this Sunday and then just pray that the weather plays ball so I can chuck it off a big hill.

Monday 16 November 2015

Polecat Rebuild continued ................

Friday evening was spent covering the fuselage with iron on film. I used the Hobby King stuff which I have used before and not had any issues with. I believe some users have said that the colour fades but I haven't been using it long enough yet for this to happen, so we shall see if this is true. But it is an awful lot cheaper than other brands and is supplied in 5 metre rolls.

The weather at home was awful on Saturday so I stayed in during the afternoon and covered the elevons with laminate film, which really stiffened them up, then began to cover the wing with the HK film. I did get one side done and I hope to continue this evening.

I can see a problem looming which I am going to have to find a solution for. I'm planning on using glass fibre cross weave tape to hinge the elevons, and I want to tape those on before I cover the wing. The wing slides through the slot in the fuselage, but it can only do this with the elevons removed.

I guess this means that I will have to apply the film to the top of the wing, but not stick it down fully until I have slotted it through the wing, attach the elevons, then iron down the film on the trailing edge. I think!

Here is a photo of the fuselage, an some wine :o)

Friday 13 November 2015

Weekends flying ........ or not!

Well looking at this weekends weather forecast, it doesn't look likely that there will be much flying going on.

Sunday looks like being the better day and it may be a case of just riding out the showers, but to be honest, I don't think I'm going to bother.

I'm going to spend a few hours on Saturday working on the Polecat. I also need to fit my old Flying Wings Hawk with a RX and battery pack as I'm going to resurrect that as my Wildthing is still in pieces and I have to work out whether it's worth repairing or not. I know my girlfriend is buying me something from the NCFM stable of models for Christmas so a Wildthing rebuild may not happen.

And talking of my girlfriend. She has been learning to fly using the Phoenix flight simulator, so you guys better look out next year as she could be there on the slopes flying my Hawk.

On Sunday morning I'm running the Cardiff 10k MoRun, in support of men's health then going into town to do some Christmas shopping, so no flying for me.

Saturday sees the first round of the F3F winter league which may happen at Southerndown. So if anyone fancies a go, you don't need an F3F model, anything will do as long as it is safe and not a lead sled or DS rocket.

That's all for now folks. Happy flying.


Polecat rebuild continued ............

So at the beginning of this thread I had plans to glass the entire fuselage, but then the more I thought about it, the more I had doubts about this.

This is an EPP model which doesn't fly slowly, (think M60 racer), and it doesn't land slowly either, so it's likely to have some fairly hefty landings. I thought it best to retain the bouncibility of the EPP, so I changed my mind and went with a laminate film covering. So that was last nights job, covering the fuselage with 75 micron film.

It's a job I do enjoy doing and I seem to be getting better at it as this is the third model I've covered in lam. I've managed to get a nice smooth finish with few wrinkles or air bubbles. The most fiddly bit is always the pointy bit at the front, and it's just a case of making lots of little snips with scissors, folding over and sticking down, but it does take a bit of practice to make a half decent job of this bit.

Of course the better job you make of this at this stage gives you better results when you go to cover with your choice of iron on film later.

So now with the fuselage completely covered, I did a test fit of the wing and that was fine, so this evening I'm going to cover the fuselage in shrink film whilst watching Children In Need and enjoy a well deserved beer.

To be continued .............

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Polecat rebuild continued ................

So the final piece was epoxied back into place and once the glue was dry I rubbed it down with medium glass paper. There wasn't a great deal of foam to foam contact area so this was going to be a weak area, so I added a piece of glass cloth over the top just to strengthen it up a little.

I then set about sanding over the entire fuselage before spreading light weight filler, or "spackle" as our American friends would call it, over its entire length, just to fill in the foam void holes and create a smooth surface for the laminate film to adhere to.

So now this is done and I'm ready to laminate. However, I thought I had some laminate film in my materials box but there wasn't enough, so I ended up having to order some more. Hopefully this will arrive by Friday so I can get on with it over the weekend.

Friday 6 November 2015

More Polecat stuff

Last night I finished off sanding down the filler on the wing and that is now ready for covering.

So I made a start on the fuselage by using the heat gun on it to loosen the iron on film and the laminate film underneath so that I could strip it back to the bare foam.

Once the covering was off, I used the heat gun on the bare foam around the nose which was a bit creased and dented, and the heat brought it back to a better shape.

I laid out the bits and put them together in a dry fit before mixing up some 30 minute epoxy and began gluing it back together.

By the end of the evening I was left with only one last piece to glue back, a piece about 70mm long which fits above the wing, so I've left that for another evening. However, before packing up completely, I drizzled some Gorilla Glue into some of the gaps where I had to rejoin pieces and small holes in the foam, to use as a filler.

So the next job is to rub it down and fill where necessary before I apply the glass cloth.

To be continued ...........

Thursday 5 November 2015

Polecat Rebuild Continued .......

So I have decided not to glass the wing and to just tidy up the wing as it stands.

So last night I used a heat gun on the laminated foam and most of the smaller creases came out and the larger ones weren't quite so pronounced. So I began filling in all the creases with light weight filler and sanded back.

I don't think I'm going to begin covering the wing until I have completed the repairs on the fuselage and then perform a dry fit.

To be continued ............

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Polecat rebuild

This was the Ron Broughton Polecat that I got from Phil.

This was the Polecat after I lost the plot after flying on Meio earlier on in the year. 

So now the rebuild begins and I have  stripped the covering from the wing and underneath is laminate film, what some would call, "new stuff". 

So the lam has to come off and then I have to get those creases out as much as possible using the boiling water method. Then using light weight filler to fill in what's left before I recover with glass fibre. 

I need to get some advice because I haven't covered anything before with glass although I do know the technique. But what I want to know is, after rubbing down to a smooth finish, will I be able to cover with iron on film or does it have to be painted? Or even better, is it possible to add colour to the Poly C water based polyurethane, which is what I shall be using instead of epoxy resin. 

If you know the answer to any of these questions, please let me know. 

I shall update this build as I go on but it certainly won't be a quick job, well, I'm
a busy boy you know. 

** So I've been thinking about this since I wrote this post and as the lam is quite good with no bubbles and fixed securely to the foam, I think I'm just going to stick with the lam and not glass the wing. So I will remove the lam from the wing tip so I can remove and fill the creases, and recover the tips with lam before covering in iron on film.

The fuselage is a different matter. As it has split in two across the wing seat, I think I will glass it to give it additional strength in this area, as it now, it will always be a weak spot.

Follow this build in the Polecat Rebuild Tab.

Monday 2 November 2015

Thermal Soaring on Manmoel Common

Hi all

Well it's been a while since I last updated this blog due to holiday and a hectic social calendar.

Last Sunday a few of the guys flew for a couple of hours on Back of Wrecker at the Bwlch, but the conditions meant that there wasn't a great deal of activity as the wind was light, so it was mainly a case of just cruising around and chewing the fat.

This weekend the weather was not in anyone's favour, apart from mine as the wind speeds forecast were very low, and in fact when I went out in the morning to go for a run, there was no wind at all.

I had anticipated this and the evening previously I had charged up my LiPo battery packs and checked over the Climax Compact, a 2 meter span, V tail thermal soarer built from a kit from the people at Hollein in Germany, and late morning on Sunday I headed up to Manmoel Common, which overlooks the Festival Park shopping centre just outside Ebbw Vale.

The slope at Manmoel can be flown on an easterly wind and isn't bad as slopes go, but as I stood on the ridge line there wasn't enough breeze to keep a paper plane in the air. But what Manmoel also has is a vast, level area of soft ground with no trees, shrubs or other obstructions. It also has a natural grassy path, about 25' wide running from north to south and looks like it has been mown with a hover mower. This makes Manmoel an excellent venue for flying thermal soarers, either on the winch, bungee or electric power.

I was joined by Mark who had brought his F3J model with him. Unfortunately he had no method of getting it into the air as there was no slope lift.

The weather was gorgeous without a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the high teens, which is unusual for early November. The Climax Compact rose nicely into the air and I immediately headed downwind, and keeping an eye on the wind sock, I went searching for a thermal.

I think it was after my third powered ascent that my wind sock gave me my first indication of a thermal coming through and I flew the model into the direction that the wind sock was pointing. Bingo! At first she just circled, not losing or gaining any height, then slowly she began to rise and I followed the thermal down wind until it was becoming more difficult to see it.

I exited the thermal and was flying back to my starting position when I noticed a thermal push the model away from its course, so making a 360° turn I found myself into another thermal and the whole procedure started again.

I was in the air for about 20 minutes at a guess before my neck began to ache and so I brought the model in to land.

Whilst on the ground I set up the timer function on my transmitter to count up, so I could see what times I was getting, and on my next flight I followed the same pattern and once again found myself into thermals and another 20 minute flight.

This was the first time I'd had flights of 20 minutes from a flat field and I enjoyed the challenge of keeping a model in the air for that long using nothing more than the natural power of thermals.

It's hardly the most exciting of flying, but when there is little or no wind it's better than no flying at all. Next time I shall take a folding canvas chair with me and a flask of coffee and remember to head to Manmoel Common.

Happy flying