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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Flying Forecast 1st/2nd October

Hi all

Here we are again with another week nearly over and thinking about getting in some flying, or not, looking at the forecast.

Saturday - XC Weather is currently showing sunshine and showers but, on this mornings BBC forecast it's looking like there may be much more rain than sunshine and a write off flying wise. XC are showing a north westerly at up to 17 mph but the BBC says variable SW to W 9 - 12 mph, so who do you believe? I think it's a case of suck it and see, but as there is rain in the forecast, I'll probably give Saturday a miss anyway.

Sunday - This is looking like a minimal wind day. XC is showing 2 - 3 mph south westerly at Cardiff Airport, which means it isn't worth taking any slope type models to the slopes and it probably isn't even worth heading to the slopes. I may just head up to Manmoel Common at Ebbw Vale with the thermal gliders and do some soaring up there instead.

I was hoping to maiden my new L39 Albatross PSS model this weekend before taking it to the final PSSA meet at the Orme in N Wales the following weekend, but that isn't going to happen now.

So whatever you do, have a fun weekend.

Happy flying

Friday, 23 September 2016

Flying Forecast 24th/25th September

Hello fellow fliers, here is your flying forecast for this weekend.

Now that we are into autumn, the temperatures are beginning to dip and it will soon be time to dig out those warmer clothes and heat packs. Unlike some, we are a hardy bunch in S Wales and we don't let cold temperatures or a covering of snow stop us from flying. I am thinking of buying a one piece thermal suit this autumn ready for the winter season.

Anyway, Saturday is probably looking like the best day for flying with a forecast at Cardiff airport of a 18 - 20 mph southerly wind with an overcast sky, but at least it looks like being dry.

Your slope options will be Back of Wrecker at the Bwlch or the coastal site at Southerndown. I will probably be heading to the Bwlch as I want to give my Aermacchi another fly, and wind speed should be 25 mph plus up there, so it should be good for the Aermacchi.

Sunday is looking like a showery day with sunny intervals with 21 mph southwesterly or westerly, depending on which forecast you look at. So your slope options will be Mickey's at the Bwlch, Meio Common or possibly Rhossili, if the wind is westerly. I probably won't be flying on Sunday, but then that could change yet.

So whatever you do, and wherever you fly, happy flying.


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Maiden flight of the PSS Aermacchi MB339

Saturday morning was lovely and sunny but, the tree tops were not moving a lot, not a good sign.

The forecast was for a north westerly of 9 - 14 mph which wouldn't have been enough to maiden the Aermacchi on any ordinary slope, but then the slopes at the Bwlch are far from being ordinary and I was sure there would be enough lift generated to get, and keep me in the air.

On arrival at the Bwlch I parked up in my usual spot by the forestry gate in readiness for the short walk to the Ice Cream Slope.

Already there was a camper van with German plates and its owner was prepping some models. We had a chat and it transpired that he and his wife had come to the Bwlch from Munich and he had flown the Ice Cream Slope the previous day and described it as, "paradise", but today the wind wasn't on the Ice Cream Slope as had been forecast, but it was on the north facing VR98.

I parked the car behind Mark's car and checked out the wind, which was square onto the slope and was measuring 12 - 14 mph.

Mark and I launched a couple of foamies to check out the air and there was plenty of lift there, so Mark landed and assembled his Pitbull F3F and launched. He pushed out and discovered that there were plenty of thermals to take him up to height so that he could then power dive down to do some aero's.

Having watched Mark, I decided that there was enough lift out there to enable me to maiden the Aermacchi and so I began to assemble and then check all the controls were working as they should.

So now I had no excuses and Mark asked me if I'd like him to launch for me, which I was pleased about because I was unsure about whether I'd set the CofG correctly, I wanted to be able to be on the sticks from the word go.

Mark threw it and off it went. It dipped and almost skimmed the long grass but then began to climb away as I applied a small amount of up elevator. Once it was away from the ridge, I had to add quite a lot of up elevator trim, but once that was sorted I cruised around trying to gain some height so that I could carry out a dive test to check the CofG. It did struggle a bit to gain the height but once it had, the dive test showed that the model was a little nose heavy, which I was pleased about and had actually planned as the last thing I wanted was to launch a tail heavy model which could have been so tail twitchy that I'd have struggled to control it. So all I have to do is remove a little of that extra weight in the nose that I'd added as security.

The model showed itself to be very stable. It seems to roll well and I even managed a 4 point hesitation roll without any problem.

After a few minutes the lift  had deserted me and so I brought her in towards and across the slope for a very easy landing in the long grass. Yayyyyyyyyy.

I had a further two more flights, all very much like the first with no problems or issues. I shall look forward to getting the Aermacchi up in a 20 - 30 mph blow and also flying it off the Orme in Llandudno at the PSSA meet in October.

Check out the video and happy flying.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Threat to Model Flying from European Regulation - EASA Prototype Rules for Unmanned Aircraft

It seems that our hobby/sport, whatever you want to call it is under threat from European bureaucrats who want to put model aircraft in the same category as multi rotor drones, which would effectively ban their use.

The proposals from the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) are currently only in prototype form, and the BMFA and the EAS (Europe Air Sports) are working hard to try and convince EASA that model aircraft are operated safely and differently from multi rotor drones, but this appears to be falling upon deaf ears.

Please click on the link and take time to read the statement from the BMFA as this concerns YOU.


Flying Forecast - Weekend 17th/18th September

Hi guys

Well I've been keeping an eye all week on this weekends weather forecast as I wanted to maiden my new PSS model. But each day the wind speed in the forecast has dropped and dropped. I wanted a minimum of 15 mph at Cardiff Airport to give me the best possible conditions at the Bwlch for this first flight.

Saturday is looking like a light north westerly of  8 - 10 mph, so your slope options will be the Ice Cream Slope at the Bwlch, Abertysswg or Rhossili. I shall head up to the Bwlch.

Sunday is looking like a light westerly of 5 - 9 mph. Your options will be Mickey's at the Bwlch, Meio Common or Rhossili.

For me? With Sunday being a light breeze I'm thinking of heading to Manmoel Common with my electric power gliders and do some thermal soaring.

Hopefully I will see some of you on the Ice Cream slope tomorrow, and as I seem to be the only one locally who does any flat field soaring, I'll probably have the ponies and sheep to keep me company on Sunday.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun.

Happy flying.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

This months featured post - Summers end

This months featured post, Summers End was originally posted on the 13th September 2013.

Take a look.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Wildthing at St Agnes Head

Hi all

Yesterday I was up with the lark to make my trip down to Cornwall to collect a PSS Aermacchi MB339 that was up for sale.

At the same time, Phil May was headed north to Llandudno to fly at the PSSA meet at the Orme. Unfortunately, with only 54 minutes driving time left, a brake caliper seized  and Phil had to abort his journey. To say Phil was gutted is an understatement as to date he hasn't managed to visit the Orme for one of these meets. Maybe next month eh Phil?

So I arrived in Newquay to collect my model. This belonged to a local guy who passed away recently and his wife was getting rid of his models. The model was just about complete and hasn't flown yet. All I have to do from what I've seen is connect the elevator cable to the servo, fit a battery and receiver, check the COG and chuck it off a big hill next Sunday.

But hang on, there was another similar model there too and I was asked if I'd take that also. On close inspection, the fuselage was built of foam, whereas mine is glass fibre, and it had taken a lot of punishment as I could see it had been patched up a lot. And then I remembered I'd seen this model flying last year on another trip to St Agnes Head.

So a deal was struck for the two models which were loaded into the car and I headed off to St Agnes, about 15 minutes away, where I met up with Martin, who is a regular visitor to this flying site. 

The wind was light at about 10 mph north westerly and the sun was shining as I launched the Wildthing into the smooth air of this fabulous slope.

During the day, other fliers turned up, including some visitors from Germany, along with locals James Clark and Stan Yeo of Phoenix Models. Stan has had a long career in the model glider field designing and producing EPP aerobatic glider kits. However, with a huge increase in the cost of EPP, Stan has redesigned his most popular models as balsa kits. I must buy one to build this winter.

Anyway, here is the video of me flying the Wildthing and hopefully I may have some video next week of the maiden flight of the MB339.

Until then, happy flying.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Flying Forecast 10th/11th September

Hi all

Well I'm back from my hols and raring to go again with some flying this weekend. So lets see what is in store for us.

This weekend sees the PSSA meet at the Orme, Llandudno, but the forecast isn't looking good at this stage. XC Weather is saying for the weather station at Capel Curig a 2 mph westerly for Saturday, rising to 7 mph by 4 pm. There maybe a little more at the Orme but if the forecast is correct, I doubt there will be much flying taking place. And Sunday is looking southerly (not a good direction for the Orme), 13 mph by 1 pm.

For the S Wales slopes it's looking like Saturday will be 10 mph rising to 15 mph north westerly at Cardiff Airport. So your slope choices will be Meio Common, Abertysswg and the Ice Cream Slope at the Bwlch. If I were going, I'd go to the Bwlch where you should also be able to pick up some good thermals with real wind speeds of 18 - 20 mph easily.

On Sunday we're looking at 13 to 15 mph at Cardiff Airport and southerly. So your options are Southerndown or Back of Wrecker at the Bwlch, which is where I will be heading to as we should have well over 20 mph up there.

On Saturday I shall be driving down to Newquay, Cornwall to collect a new PSS model I'm buying. So as it's a 3½ to 4 hour drive it would be rude of me not to go flying at St Agnes Head, where the forecast is north westerly 10 - 12 mph. With this being a big sea cliff, I can expect a ridge wind speed of probably around 18 - 20 mph.

So good luck and happy flying to all of you who are out over the weekend and maybe I'll see you on one of the slopes.