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, 29 February 2016

Large Wing Disaster

Hi all

Well my weekends plans to head to Cornwall to visit family and fly at St Agnes Head went awry as my daughter in law fell ill, and I'm sure the last thing she needed were visitors to have to entertain.

So instead, I contacted the guy in Paignton, Devon who I had organised with to collect the Bird of Time I was buying from him, to see if it was ok to collect it on Saturday instead of Monday as previously planned. That turned out to be fine so Michelle and I headed to S Devon for the day.

That meant I was free to fly with the boys on Sunday.

The north easterly wind was bitterly cold and blowing at around 22 - 24 mph on Fochriw but slowly dying away and the usual crowd of guys were there flying the usual models. Until Richard from Cardiff turned up that is.

Richard had brought along a large chevron wing made from foam, set this up, and Chris duly launched it.

But rather than describe what happened, just take a look at the video.

After most of the others had gone home for the day, due to the cold and the ever decreasing wind, I stayed on and chewed the fat with Richard and his mate from Cardiff MAC.

The wind began to increase again so I took the opportunity and fly some more.

I had brought along my newly repaired Tracuer, which I haven't flown in probably about a year.

The launch was a bit hairy as with this model you really do have to stand on the edge of the ridge, otherwise it'll just be blown back at you. It also needed an awful lost of trim adjustment, but I eventually got that sorted out. I had also remembered from the last time I flew it, it had been a little tail heavy, so a 10 gram weight was taped onto the nose and this made all the difference.

I actually, thoroughly enjoyed flying it, so I'll make some mechanical adjustments to the flying controls and take her with me to fly again the next time conditions allow. I'll try to get some video of it as well. I would have done so this time but it was far too cold to be wearing my cap with the camera mount on it.

So until next time.
Happy flying.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


So last weekend was a total washout, it just rained all day on Saturday and most of Sunday, with gale force winds to boot. So non of my models saw the light of day.

Paul from slope soaring sussex came down and we were hoping to meet up at the Bwlch, but that wasn't to be, so Paul's record as a weather jinx lives on! One day he'll come for a weekend when the weather Gods will look upon him favourably.

This weekend the weather is looking more promising, which is good because I'm heading down to Cornwall to visit family. So a couple of foamies, (Wildthing, Moth or Polecat, depending on wind speed), will be loaded into the car and with any luck I shall be able to head to St Agnes Head on Sunday morning for some quality flying.


I've become very interested in thermal soaring over the last year and I have acquired a couple of models to fly. However, just lately I've been quite taken by the Great Planes, (Dynaflite) Bird of Time. For those of you who don't know this model ........

It is a 3m span ARF with a glass fuselage and fin, with built up, monocoted wing, tailplane and rudder with 2ch, (rudder/elevator) controls only, and it has a very "retro" look to it.

It has been likened to a large Eflite Radian to fly, which I had a few years ago and it did fly brilliantly. And like the Radian, the BOT doesn't need ailerons as the rudder control is so positive. By all accounts, (and the many video's I've watched), it is a real floater too.

Non of the usual UK suppliers seem to have one available in stock, but I have been in touch with a guy who has one which he hasn't completed assembly on yet, (so it hasn't flown) and he wants to sell it. So it looks like I'll have a third thermal soarer to add to my collection. The main difference between this and my other models is that this one is a pure sailplane, with no electric power, so my Hi Start will be getting some use again this year.

I'm intending on doing a lot more thermal soaring this year, weather permitting, as there is obviously a skill involved in connecting to and staying in thermals, and I want to crack this. But what I really need are a pair of thermal detecting sun glasses. If anyone would like to invent these, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time
Happy flying

Monday, 15 February 2016

Winter flying on Fochriw

So yesterday, (Valentines Day) all the guys seemed to have deserted their partners and headed for the slope.

On arrival there was no sign of any para gliders, (phew), the wind was blowing in from the north east at 20 - 25 mph, there was snow on the top of Pen Y Fan mountain, and on the hill overlooking Ebbw Vale just two valleys over from us, and the car was showing a temperature of just 1°C, so it would have been a few degrees colder in that wind.

Mark had brought along his new purchase, a Baudis Pitbull F3F, which didn't fly as the CofG was about 10mm out.

Chris had brought along his new Needle 124 and had a hairy maiden flight, (as you will see in the video) because he had his TX Phase Switch on the wrong setting, and as I understand it, this caused all the controls to be on maximum throws, which made the elevator decidedly twitchy. But he got it down ok and managed a better flight later on.

The rest of us were mainly flying a variety of foamies and we all had a blast in great lift.

I will apologise now as the following video isn't one of my better ones. This was due to cold, numb fingers, and it was too cold to wear my hat cam also.

We did all enjoy the flying and spent 2 - 3 hours up there. Roll on the warmer weather though.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Weekend flying 13/14th February

Greetings fellow slopies. Well this weekends weather forecast isn't looking the best, and as Saturday is looking likely to be very wet, (but I don't care because I'm going to the Wales v Scotland rugby game).

But Sunday looks like being mostly dry, but there could be a few snow flurries coming in from the NE on the 15 - 20 mph forecast wind. This means flying one of our favourite slopes, Fochriw.

The good thing about Fochriw is that it is a "park & fly" slope, so we park the cars about 40 meters from the ridge. So when we have cold or showery conditions, we can take easy refuge in the car to keep warm and dry. The flying is usually awesome as well!

At this time of year, I tend only to fly the foamies, because assembling glass models can be a bit of a pain with cold fingers, and I really can't be bothered going to that trouble when the -5°C wind is biting and I'm only staying for an hour or so.

So if you have nothing better to do on Valentines day, (yes, it is Valentines day on Sunday, so I hope you chaps have remembered the flowers, chocs and a card), then I hope to see you on Fochriw.

Until then

Happy flying

Thursday, 11 February 2016

ME-109 Build Continued ..........

Right, lets carry on with the wing.

A spar made out of a strip of pine batten 8mm thick is cut as per plan, although I have slightly modified it  to include a slight amount of wash out in the finished wing.
The spar is glued to the bottom of the wing using my hot glue gun.

Note, this photo is from the Impala build but the same principle applies.

Once the glue has cooled you apply 2 pack adhesive to the top of the spar and the rear most edge of the trailing edge.
I then gently folded the wing back from the leading edge over the spar and slid the wing into my jig, the purpose of the jig is to keep the bottom of the wing flat and help form the correct angle of the leading edge.

A straight edge and clamps were used to hold in place while the glue dried.                                      
Note how the top sheet rolls over the spar with out kinking                                                                  
I made a mistake with the first attempt and creased the wing over the spar, this wing was scrapped.

I seem to of miss placed the photo of the finished wing but I'll try and find it and add latter.               
The curve over the spar is supposed to be gently with no crease.                                                            

A second wing is build the same as this but obviously the other side, not like I've done before and       built two left hand  wings!!!!                                                                                                                      
A piece of batten is cut as per plan into a vary shallow 'V' shape and approx 8" long, this will be used to join the wings and add the correct dihedral  ( 3" in this case )                                                            

The aileron is cut out, again following the dimensions on the plan, this will be hinged with cross       weave tape latter in the build.                                                                                                                 

As I planed to paint this model I decided to cover the model in brown paper which was applied after spraying the fuselage with a 3m type glue,                                                                                             


The fin and horizontal stabilizer are made from 4mm correx to give a little more strength, these will be fitted into the slot in the back of the fuselage.                                                                                   
 To me it looked like the fin on the plan was slightly to small so I increased it  by approx 10 mm          which I think is an improvement on it's appearance.                                                                               

To allow the elevator to move you run a blade along the hinge line on the bottom of the stabilizer only cutting through one side, this allows the top side to act as a hinge.                                          

That's all for now guys until next time....

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Thermal Instinct F5J Wing Rebuild

Friday evening saw me removing all the old, damaged ribs and cleaning the carbon LE and spar ready to glue in the new ribs.

This turned out to be a very easy and very quick job to do, so much so that I had completed the tip section and still felt I had enough time to complete the middle section too in that evening.

Saturday morning and there was only a little damage to the starboard wing, which was completed in a couple of hours. I did have to cut out some damage to the wash out fin tip and fabricate a new piece. It just needs a little more sanding to shape.

So here are both of the repaired middle and tip sections completed and ready for covering.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Me - 109 build cont

Construction of the fuselage is progressing nicely.
I'm awaiting delivery of a sheet of 4mm correx for the tail fin and horizontal stabilizer, so I've decided to make a start on the primary covering.

Usually I cover my correx builds in vinyl, but this model is going to be painted in the colour that the Luftwaffe used for the  Polish invasion in 1939.

Painting on correx will require special primers and paints and as this is a 'budget' build I carried out a few tests on preparing the surface so that it will except standard paints.
The best result I had was to sand the surface down to 'key' the plastic, then spray the correx with a 3M type aerosol glue and while this was tacky I applied brown paper  to it.
This has dried ok so I should be able to paint and seal this with no problem....hopefully, only time will tell.

Looking a bit rough at the moment, but getting there , albeit slowly.

As you can see, I've managed to source a canopy which is the correct size, this saves me trying to make one.
I'm having a flat nosed spinner 3D printed up, along with a pair of exhausts and an engine air intake. These should help with the 'scale look'.

Wing Construction

I've also made a start on the construction of the wings, again I've used my tried and tested method of build using 2mm sheet for the wing skin and a 8mm thick pine strip cut to shape & size for the spar.
This method produces a flat bottomed 'Clark Y' type section, along with 2.5" of dihedral under each wing, has proved very successful.

The wing template is drawn around to form the basic shape of the wing.

But you do not cut along the L/E  as this becomes a fold line  and the material in front of the fold line/leading edge becomes the top of the wing.

Well it looks like a wet weekend ahead of us so no flying    :-(    so I'll try and crack on with the wing build....

Till next time.

Rain, rain, and more rain!

This weekends weather is looking totally pants, with heavy rain forecast for Saturday and more rain for Sunday, so no flying will be taking place this weekend at all.

But that's ok as I have things I can be doing. For instance, the rib kit has arrived from Hollein in Germany, so I can get on with rebuilding the wing on my Thermal Instinct F5J. And a very quick service that was, considering Hollein didn't have any stock of this item when I contacted them this time last week. Well done Hollein!

So last night I began work on the outer wing tip panel, removing the old, broken ribs, cleaning off the carbon spar and generally tidying it up.

You can see that the tip panel was virtually destroyed with only the TE, aileron and servo box surviving. The mid wing panel looks like needing about half of the ribs replacing.

So the above picture shows a dry fit of the ribs. The servo box still has the rear half of the ribs intact, and these make up part of the servo box. So I'm just going to modify the new ribs and glue these to the existing ribs. I also have to fabricate a triangular strengthening piece to fit where the tip rib and TE meet.

The construction of the tip panel should be completed tomorrow and a good start at least made on the mid wing section panel.

And whilst all this is happening, I shall be watching the Six Nations Rugby Championship on the TV.

Have a good weekend all.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Red Arrows over the Bwlch, The Spectre, The Moth & The Stug

So on Saturday, Mark, Clive, Phil, Josh and myself walked up the track at the Bwlch to probably our favourite slope there, Mickey's West.

The wind was blowing 25 - 30 mph which, for those who know this slope, equates to a HUGE amount of lift.

It was pretty chilly too with the temperature back at the car park at only 3*C, so with the wind chill, it was a bit cold. However, I was well dressed for the day and I was warm enough to fly for 3 hours.

Phil has been rebuilding his Red Arrows Hawk, and Josh's too, so they launched for a bit of syncro flying, but the conditions were just a bit too much for that.

Anyway, here's some video of the fun they had.

Phil had also brought along his new Flyingwings Spectre, which was flying along with my Moth and Clive's home brew plank, The Stug, which actually flies faster than this video depicts.

Until next time, happy flying dudes

ME 109 Build cont

Progress has been slow at the moment due to other commitments, but today I managed to spend a couple of hours in the workshop.

I was having a problem sourcing a canopy and it was looking like I was going to have to mold one myself, but after some more  searching I've managed to find a suitable one on-line, hopefully it will be ok.

This afternoon I started to cover the  section of the fuselage from the cockpit rearwards, this turned out to be more difficult than anticipated mainly because I wanted to use 1 piece of correx for each side instead of multiple pieces. The correx just did not want to follow the shape of the 3 rear formers and join to the cockpit section without creasing.

This is the 3rd attempt...not perfect by any means but I hope I can make good.

Securing the sheet to the formers and stringers was by my usual method with correx builds of a hot glue gun, which I find gives me about 20 seconds to position correctly before the glue starts to cure.

I have only managed to complete one side this afternoon and here are a couple of photos to show the progress.


The tail is just a rough piece taped in position to get an idea of size to see if I need to increase it's dimensions slightly.

I've left the front section open so I can add the battery and receiver  latter on.