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.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Robin Lutzenburger flies the Crest

Today I met up at the Bwlch with a nice chap from southern Germany who has been in S Wales for the last week to fly our fabulous slopes.

Robin flew the slopes at Rhossili and Southerndown twice each during the week. We were supposed to try flying at the Bwlch yesterday but the weather forecast was not as expected and we had drizzle for most of the day, and today's forecast wasn't brilliant with only a 8 - 9 mph easterly.

I met Robin at the Wrecker lay by, and flying was not looking promising with the clag rolling in up the valley. But it was Robin's final day and he was determined to give it a go. So we drove the short distance to the Crest and began our march across the rough terrain to a spot which looked easy enough to launch and land from.

The wind felt very light but, holding my Wildthing in my hand I could feel it wanted to go, so a gentle push saw it on its way.

Letting the foamy go up to check our ceiling height, it appeared we only had about 20m to play with, so low level flying was the order of the day.

I brought the foamy down and let Robin have a go, he launched his Rotmilan F3F but after only a couple of minutes the clag began to roll in a bit thicker and there were a couple of times when I could hear the model screeching, but I couldn't see it.

Fortunately Robin managed to land it safely, so we stood around, chewing the fat until the clag cleared enough for us to fly again.

All in all it appears Robin enjoyed his flying here in S Wales and he has vowed to return, hopefully next year. He loves our slopes that don't have trees, rocks or other obstacles, but does love our large, grassy landing areas. He also loves our craft beers but thinks we have far to many roundabouts.

Here is some video of Robin today. Keep in touch mate and we hope to see you soon.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Weekend Flying Forecast 29th/30th October

The days are getting shorter, the end of October is here and Monday is Halloween, and the temperature is dropping. So it's time to dig out the thermal underwear and the trapper hats for the next four months.

But autumn and winter doesn't stop the hardy boys of S Wales from getting out to the slopes when the weather allows, and most of us have been out on the slopes even when there has been a covering of snow.

This is also the time of year I use to make repairs or build new models, and I have three to get on with, or will have once I get my hands on them.

I have my PSS Skyhawk to complete. I am waiting on delivery from Valenta of my 3m L213A, and Michelle is buying me the little, (990mm) Vagabond for Christmas. So those should keep me out of the pub during the winter evenings.

So now onto this weekends flying forecast.

We have a visitor to the area from Germany, Robin Lutzenburger, and I know he's had some good flying so far at Rhossili and Southerndown, and I think today he is heading back to Rhossili to maiden his 2.5m Swift. But this weekend is looking to be much quieter wind wise.

Saturday - Dry and bright with a 5 - 6 mph south easterly.

Personally, I wouldn't waste my time usually heading to a slope with that kind of wind speed, but if you insist then you could maybe try Back of Wrecker at the Bwlch, although the wind could be quite off the face. If you fancy adding some hiking into your flying day, then you could march over to the far side of the Crest. Another option would be Blain Bran at Cwmbran.

Sunday - Another dry and bright day with a slightly better 8 - 9 mph easterly.
So for me, the Crest at the Bwlch would be the obvious choice and, with such a light wind, the rotor shouldn't be to much of an issue.

Fochriw may be flyable although slightly off face with the added risk of para glider activity, and Manmoel is another option. But wherever you go, lightly loaded models will be the order of this weekend.

Keep your eyes open on the Slope Soaring in Wales Facebook group page for any last minute changes, and whatever you end up doing, happy flying.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A pair of Aermacchi's

When Phil and I met up at Manmoel common to fly our new L39's, we also brought along our almost matching Island Models Aermacchi MB339 PSS jobs. But I'll let the video tell the story.

Polecat on the Crest

Sunday saw me heading up to the Bwlch as the weather man had said that there was going to be a ENE wind of up to 30 mph, and that meant flying the mighty Crest.

I was very surprised as my car came around the bend after passing the Wrecker that there were no other cars parked at the side of the road, as I had thought that the days conditions would have brought plenty of people out to fly.

So after unloading the car I made the lonely trek across the rough terrain until I found my spot where the wind was square onto the crescent shaped cliff. I measured the wind speed which was in the 30's, gusting to 40 mph.

I had only brought two models with me as I wanted to travel light. The FVK Signal 2.4m and my Polecat EPP60 racing bird. And as there was no one else there to help me launch, I decided that I would fly the smaller Polecat.

Standing as close to the edge of the cliff as I dare, and holding the Polecat which was being buffeted about in my hand, I waiting for the wind to die down just a little before committing to a throw, and then she was away.

Surprisingly, I didn't have to alter any trim, particularly elevator, but then I think the last time I flew the Polecat it was in a 40 mph south westerly on Mickey's.

I remember thinking how fast the cat was going, but then when I watched the video footage back later, the cat looked farther away from me than I thought it was and it didn't look to be travelling as fast. It was pulling some seriously big loops from level flight though.

Landing is always tricky up on the Crest due to the severe rotor, so when it came the time to think about landing, I traversed the slope whilst walking up to the top of the rise behind me before taking the cat down wind, then across before pointing her back into the wind.

I had taken the cat just a little too far back and she came in pretty damned quick, losing height rapidly without the benefit of the wind to slow her down, but she landed ok and with no damage, which is the main thing.

Anyway, check out the video.

Monday, 24 October 2016

PSS L39 Albatross Maiden Flights

I arrived at Manmoel Common, Ebbw Vale around about noon on Saturday. The wind was near enough square onto the slope which was blowing from ENE at 15 - 18 mph, which is about as near as perfect as you'd like to maiden a small PSS model, which the L39 Albatross is.

Both Big Phil and myself had these built for us by Andrew Meade, so they are identical apart from the colour schemes.

I was the first to arrive at the slope and knowing full well that I had added to much nose weight, even though it seemed to balance perfectly on the marked spots on the underside of the wing, I gave the wee bird a few test throws, tweaking the elevator trim a little each time I threw it. The time had come and I gave her a good throw and off she went.

It was obvious straight away that it needed quite a lot of up elevator and right aileron trim, but once that was sorted she was flying alright, but the dive test proved to me what I already knew, that she was nose heavy.

Andrew had said to be soft on the elevator. I had already set up dual rates on the TX so I had switched it onto low rates but kept the ailerons on high rates. As it turned out, the elevator was about perfect but I had to switch the ailerons to low rates as it was far to twitchy.

I flew her around a little more before landing, which was non eventful really, then removed the wing and excavated some of that extra nose weight. I also added an extra 5% expo onto the ailerons before chucking her off the slope again.

This time she was flying much better and would even perform a proper loop instead of reaching the top and just flopping over.

The added expo and smaller aileron movements certainly made her less twitchy and so I decided to land again to remove just a little more nose weight. However, she landed with a bit of a thud which ripped off the wing retaining screws nylon head, and so that brought an end to flying that model for the rest of the day.

Here is the video of those flights.

Phil and his son Josh turned up about an hour after me and we immediately set to preparing his Albatross for its first flight.

We walked back away from the slope where there is a slight rise in the ground and I threw the model for Phil. It went extremely well and must have flown 20 metres or more before landing. So we just picked it up and chucked it off the slope straight away.

It behaved very well. Elevator trim seemed right but it needed a bit of left aileron trim and the CofG seemed perfect too.

There isn't a lot more I can really say about this as it all went so well with no issues.

So here is Phil's video.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Flying forecast 22nd/23rd October

Hi guys,

It's that time of the week again where I take a look at the weekends weather forecast and advise which slopes to fly.

Saturday - A bright day with a 14 - 18 mph ENE forecast. So you have a few options of slope to fly. So lets start with the Bwlch and maybe either the Wrecker or the Crest, both of which are awesome slopes. I think you would need to assess the wind direction once you arrive to choose which slope to fly.

Your other options would be Fochriw, but look out for the para gliders as the wind speed is within their limits, although the wind speed could be a bit more up there.

You could also try Manmoel Common, There's no chance of para gliders up there and the only problem you could possibly have are the nosey ponies that roam wild up there. I have had to shoo them away on a few occasions.

Meio also has a slope that faces ENE ish and could also be a possibility if you live towards the bottom end of the A470 and don't want to travel very far.

I still want to maiden my L39 Albatross and I figure that Saturday could be the day to do this. So I'm thinking that Fochriw or Manmoel would be best for this. I will probably decide which at the last moment.

Sunday - Another bright day with an easterly of 23 - 30 mph. WOW! This means, for me anyway, there is only one slope worth flying in the whole of the UK, let alone S Wales, and that is the mighty Crest. For those of you who don't know the Crest, check out the Flying Sites page on this blog.

This is a truly awesome slope and not one for the weak of heart. To launch you have to stand as close to the edge of the vertical cliff as you dare, throw the model like it just spat in your face, then watch it as it goes up, and up, and up, as if it's in a lift, or elevator to my American friends.

A fair bit of down elevator trim will probably be required, and you can push out as far as you like and you won't run out of lift.

Landing your pride and joy is another story. Everyone has their own method but one thing is certain, the harder the wind blows, the further away from the slope edge you have to be to get it down safely due to the severity of the rotor. This may well be 100 metres or more but it is totally necessary.

I like to gain plenty of height then head down wind whilst walking. Once I feel the model has gone back far enough, (but not beyond the rise in the ground in front of me), I begin to circle and lose height before activating CROW (if available) and coming to a halt in the long grass.

But if the Crest doesn't take your fancy, then Manmoel Common can fly in an easterly, possibly Fochriw, (though it could be somewhat off face), and the Garth, (at the bottom of the A470) is also pretty good in an easterly.

To conclude, take a look at this video which shows me flying my FVK Signal last year at the Crest in wind speeds a lot less than are forecast for Sunday.

So wherever you decide to fly this weekend, have fun and happy flying.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Octobers Featured Post

So this months featured post is The Mill Hill Posse v The Bwlch Boys, which takes us back to October 2013 and where we first got to meet Paul Hampshire of Slope Soaring Sussex.

Since then, Paul and I have met up to fly, and partake in a spot of lunch, a few times, with Paul showing me the slopes of both east and west Sussex, and with us both flying that fabulous slope at Rhossili quite recently.

So take a look and enjoy.


Taffy Sloping

So my flying didn't quite go to plan on Saturday, but I did get an hour in.

However, Mike and Dave seemed to have a better time on the Wrecker, as can be seen on this video. I hope you don't mind be pinching it guys.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Flying forecast 15th/16th October

Hi all. Here is your forecast for the weekend ahead.

Saturday - Rain looks like it could be heading north but may only effect SW Wales and the SE could be left dry, hopefully. Otherwise it is looking like being a bright, dry day with a mostly southerly wind of 15 - 20mph. So your slope options will be Back of Wrecker at the Bwlch or the coastal slope at Southerndown.

Sunday - is looking like a mixture of sunshine and showers with a southerly wind decreasing slowing during the day from 20 - 30 mph at 10am down to 12 - 18 mph by 4pm. So your slope options are the same as for Saturday.

I am unable to fly on Sunday but I am intending heading up to the Bwlch on Saturday for about midday, as my new L39 Albatross PSS model needs its maiden flight.

So whatever you are doing this weekend, happy flying.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Dear Santa

It's getting to that time of year when I am being asked what I'd like Santa to bring me for Xmas.

You may remember that last year, Michelle bought me the NCFM Moth.

The Moth is able to fly in a light breeze, but I fancy something a little more traditional, small and light. So I came across the Vagabond MK2 from Stan Yeo at Pheonix MP, and I've been itching to build one of Stans kits for a while now. 

It has a 39" span for elevator and aileron and an average weight of 16oz (990gm). It looks like it could be fun as well as easy to pack in the car for trips away.

So Dear Santa, please bring me a Vagabond for Christmas.

PSSA Fly for Fun Meet

Hi guys.

Last weekend saw the last PSSA Fly for Fun meet of 2016 take place at the Orme, Llandudno.

I arrived at the Orme for about 2:30 pm, after all the fun had happened apparently. The wind was NE and about 7 - 8 mph, but had been up to 14 mph when some PSS flying was able to take place, for a short time anyway.

Luckily I had taken with me my 3m F5J Thermal Instinct, as the last time I attended without taking a light wind flier, I was left not being able to fly at all. So the F5J got some action at least.

Sunday morning and once again the conditions were too light to fly all but the lightest of PSS models and many people were left having to fly sport models, myself included. So the F5J flew again as did my 2m X Models Whisper.

But the turnout was good, as was the banter, and no doubt I shall fly my PSS models on my local slopes during the autumn and winter months, and look forward to the warmer spring sunshine and the beginning of the PSSA meets in 2017.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Flying Forecast 8th/9th October

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

Both Saturday & Sunday are looking similar with a 10 - 14 mph north easterly at Cardiff airport. Your slope options are the Wrecker at the Bwlch or, Fochriw. If I were flying locally this weekend my choice would be the Wrecker as the light conditions and sunshine will bring out the para gliders en mass at Fochriw, and some of these guys just don't care about the model flyers, or their own safety it seems and deliberately try to bully us off the slope.

For myself, I am heading up to the Great Orme at Llandudno for the last in this seasons PSSA Fly for Fun meets.

Conditions up there look like being very similar to S Wales but I'm taking no chances this time and taking models that will fly in any wind condition. The last time I attended this meeting the forecast was wrong and we ended up standing around for two days chatting as there was no wind at all. So the F5J Thermal Instinct is going as I will at least have electric power to get me in the air. The 2 metre Whisper is going as it will fly in 8 mph and above, and the Aermacchi and L39 Albatross PSS models are going. Unfortunately there will be no room left in the car for the large Tiffy, which still hasn't flown at the Orme because on each occasion I've flown there, the wind has been to light for it.

So whatever you are doing this weekend, happy flying.