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.

Friday, 31 March 2017

South Wales Soaring Association

A few days ago, on the Slope Soaring in Wales Facebook group page, someone asked if the SWSA (South Wales Soaring Association) was still in existence.

This was a good question, because most of the guys locally didn't know, and the website hadn't been updated since 2009.

However, someone was still paying the land owner at the Bwlch for official access to the flying areas, and someone was still organising the annual Welsh Open F3F competition and the winter league competitions. So it appears that the SWSA was only being used for organising F3F competitions and keeping a place to hold them.

After a lot of banter on Facebook, and making a few enquiries myself, I managed to contact a couple of the clubs committee members, and it transpires that they are ready to hand over the reigns to more local guys. (The chairman now lives in Scotland).

There is still a lot of discussion to be had with the existing committee before a hand over can take place, and work to be done developing a new website, new committee members to be chosen, should this be required, and many other details to discuss. It will take time but we will get there in the end.

I feel this is a good thing for slope flying in S Wales as it appears the SWSA had become stagnant. It will be good for the local fliers, to bring them closer together. Good too for promoting S Wales as a flying venue. Good for promoting slope soaring to new fliers. Good for F3F competitions at the Bwlch.

Once all the details have been sorted, and a new website is available, I will add a page to this blog and create a link to the new SWSA.

Weekend flying forecast 1st/2nd April

OMG, is it really April already?

After last weekends high winds, it appears we're not going to get a great deal of wind this weekend.

Saturday - It looks like being a showery day with a south westerly wind of only around 6 mph.

Your choices of slopes, should you wish to venture out, will be Mickeys, Meio or Rhossili possibly.

Sunday - Although this looks like being a brighter day with no rain, a north west wind of 4 mph only seems to be the order of the day.

Your slope choice would be the Ice Cream Slope at the Bwlch, Abertysswg or Meio.

Unfortunately I am unable to fly on Sunday as I have a family social event to attend at lunch time, and with such light winds forecast on Saturday, it's hardly worth the effort.

Next weekend sees the first PSSA meet of the year at the Orme in Llanudno, so I shall spend some time tomorrow readying my three models. I've recovered the tail on my Aermacchi MB-339A and it is looking so much better now, even though the gold trim doesn't match exactly with the original shade. No one will notice when it's flying past them at 30 mph.

So whatever you're doing, have a fab weekend all.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bwlchfest Update 28th February

Hi all

Should anyone require to order a personalised Bwlchfest T shirt or cap, please contact Robin Lutzenburger at bwlchfest.shirts@gmail.com.

Robin will require to know if you want a T shirt at approximately £20 or a cap at £5, what size shirt you require as well as the name you wish printed on it. He will then advise you how to pay by PayPal.


Some non personalised shirts and caps may be available on the day, however quantity and sizes cannot be guaranteed.


Order your shirt & cap now and we look forward to seeing you at Bwlchfest 2017.


Monday, 27 March 2017

Maiden flight of the L213

I managed to maiden the L213 on Saturday. The wind was 27 mph gusting up to 38 mph. The para and hang gliders were there but there was no way they were ever going to get off the ground with those wind speeds.

Mark launched, but the L213 nose dived into the ground. So three clicks of up elevator trim saw it rising up fabulously.

The only trim I had to alter was the elevator, which then needed down trim to stop it from going up, and up, and up.

I cruised around for a couple of minutes to get a feel for it, and it was feeling very nice indeed. 

I had aileron DR on a 3 position switch but I found that my max setting was fine with the 30% expo I had set.

Loops were fine, and HUGE in that lift without using any snap flap. Rolls were great, but when I engaged the flaps mix, the rolls were superbly crisp and axial.

Four point hesitation rolls were dead easy, and I even managed to knife edge it. Inverted only needed a tiny bit of down elevator.

Thermal flap needed a reduction in elevator compensation. Speed flap, (I had set about 1 mm of reflex) saw a slight increase in speed and the nose came down just a smidgen. I shall experiment with this setting to get the best amount of reflex/speed.

CROW was perfect at height with no tendency to rise or dive, so it appeared I'd got the elevator compensation about right.

My first landing and I deployed crow. She slowed down nicely but hovered about 8' above the ground, so instead of adding down elevator I decided to try the spoilers.

I'm so glad I put the spoilers on a slider and not on a switch. With about ¼ movement, she came down to a nice landing, the spoilers killing the lift.

Here's a video of the launch. Unfortunately my head cam wasn't set correctly and I missed most of the action. Hopefully this Saturday will be better.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Weekend flying forecast 25th/26th March and other stuff

Another weekend approaches and, at long last, some decent flying weather looks like being on the cards, so hopefully I can maiden my L213 😊.

Saturday - A fine, bright day with a north easterly wind of 16 mph, so you can probably expect 25 mph plus on the slope.

Your slopes of choice will be, the Wrecker at the Bwlch, Fochriw, and although a little off face but you could try Manmoel at Ebbw Vale or Meio Common too.

Sunday - A cloudier day but dry with an easterly wind of 17 mph.

Your slope choices will be the Crest at the Bwlch, (but watch out for that rotor though as it will be severe), Manmoel or even the Garth, (which does fly well on an easterly, but car parking is pants).

I am intending flying on both days, Saturday at Fochriw, and Sunday at Manmoel. Sometimes though we get an easterly forecast and on the day it turns out to be north easterly, or vice versa, so each day will have to be played by ear.


Now that the L213 is complete, I have moved onto my next job which was to replace the covering on the tail plane of my Aermacchi MB-339 PSS model. The original covering was quite badly wrinkled and I wanted this job done before the first PSSA meet at the Orme in early April. The wings also require recovering but they will do for now anyway.

I removed the old covering last night, which was a really thick material and it didn't respond to heat, but it did come off easily enough. The new black covering went on fine although I did have to sand down the bare balsa a bit first. It didn't look like it had been sanded originally. I only have the gold trim to add now.

I noticed last night that the canopy is a bit loose also, so that'll need sticking down too.

Completion of my Phoenix models Vagabond, which came to a grinding halt due to building the L213, will begin again next week hopefully. I don't envisage there being more than a couple of weeks work there. I want this model ready for the end of May when I am going away to west Wales for a week long camping trip. I hope to fly this off some of the sea cliffs there.

Then I have a Steve Webb models Fournier RF4 which was given to me by Paul Hampshire of Slope Soaring Sussex. This is a partly built balsa model and to complete the build phase shouldn't take to long at all. This should be a nice little model to fly from a local field under electric power, or off the slope. Hopefully mine will look something like the ones in the following picture.

I'm wondering if this can actually be classed as PSS, as it is powered and a glider? Answers on a post card please. This will be a good model to take along to the PSS events should there be a lack of wind, which we certainly had last year.

And finally, my trusty FVK Signal is looking tired after many years of flying. I bought this from fellow local flier Chris, and he bought it on eBay, so I have no idea how old it is, but it still flies well and is generally in good condition.

So this is going to get a complete refurb with the glass fuselage to be resprayed and the wings recovered. I'm seriously considering replacing the rather weak wing servos with the same KST units I fitted to the L213, as these are really good quality with great torque but won't break the bank.

Anyway, that is it for this week. I hope to see you on Fochriw or Manmoel this weekend.

Happy flying 

Monday, 20 March 2017

L213 A built and ready for maiden flight

My Valenta L213 A, 2.77m 1/5 scale is finally complete and awaiting some decent weather to chuck it off a big hill.

Unfortunately I couldn't fly on Saturday as I had other things I needed to do, and yesterday's weather wasn't good with low cloud and drizzle, but also Cardiff Airport was showing gusts of 35 mph, so on the top of the hill it would have been well in excess of 40 mph, and I'm looking for something between 17 - 25 mph ideally for its first flight.

Here are some pictures.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Weekend flying forecast 18th/19th March

I was really disappointed with last weekends weather forecast, which said rain for Sunday. So I didn't bother charging model batteries or putting any in the car as I headed over to Michelle's for the weekend.

I awoke on Sunday to a fairly bright day, and as the day progressed, there was still no sign of any rain 😠. However, I was talking to John Farrell on Monday evening in a supermarket car park, where I met him as he was letting me have some lead shot for my L213 project, and he was saying that from his home he couldn't see the tops of the mountains because they were shrouded in cloud. So maybe I couldn't have flown anyway.

So if we are to believe this weekends forecast, we may as well leave the models in their hangars and stay in bed, as the forecast is for rain and more rain.

Saturday - rain all day with a 17 mph westerly.

Sunday - rain all day with a 18 mph west south westerly. However, when I watched the BBC weather forecast on TV this morning, it did look like there may be a chance that this rain could be just showers, and possibly just miss us as it may pass slightly north of us who live around Newport, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and the lower end of the valleys.  So I would say to keep a model or two charged and ready to go, just in case Sunday proves to be flyable.

My L213 should be ready to fly by Sunday, so I'm going to have him in the car and ready to go in case there is a window in the weather, in which case I shall just head up to Meio Common. I can beat a quicker retreat from there should the weather turn nasty whilst I'm up there.

Last night I was working on the L213 and I made a final check on the CoG, before gluing the radio tray in position. As it turned out, I had to move the tray a little rearward to achieve the correct balance, but I'd already accounted and planned for this.

I also made a cock up when connecting the rudder pull pull wires and forgot to lock the servo arm in place first. Oooops. So I have to pop into my local fishing tackle shop on my way home from work to buy some crimps and re do one of the wires this evening. So an hours work at the most and then finish off programming the TX, charge the batteries and I'm ready to go.

So whatever you're doing, have a good weekend.

Happy flying

Friday, 10 March 2017

L213 Progress 10th March

I'm nearly there! Both wings have now been completed and I sorted out the air brake/spoiler.

I was originally, (on the recommendation of a friend), going to put the brake on a three position switch, so it would be off/50%/100%, but then I decided to put it on a slider. So now when I activate it, the slider goes up to the mid position and the TX beeps at me, so I then know I'm at 50% and I can then move up to 100% if need be.

What I now need to work out, is how to link that in with crow/butterfly, but also use a switch to activate it in crow or not.

In fairness, it isn't likely to be used that much, but I have found with my X Models Whisper, whose flap travel isn't the greatest but about the same as the L213, that when flying in lighter conditions, there is little wind resistance to slow it down when on finals, so the brake will hopefully help this.

The simple wire attached to the underside of the brake seems to work well as you can see from the following video and cannot be pulled up once locked in the down position.

Then it was time to check out how the model balanced. Valenta recommend a CofG at 82mm, which is right in the centre of the wing joiner, and checking with other owners on various forums, this measurement appears to be spot on.

Even with two LiFe battery packs mounted up front, she still needed 670gm (1lb 7½ oz) of extra weight. It's no wonder very few people add ballast to this model.

I scoured my bits and pieces boxes for anything I could use to ascertain the extra weight needed, and well, you can see from the picture, three battery packs and a few sticky tyre weights.

Hopefully I have a solution with an offer made to me from someone who has a load of lead shot available, which I can mix with epoxy and shape and glue into the nose.

So that is it for now. Once the balance has been sorted I can then fit the pull pull rudder wires, fit the canopy, check all over that nothing is amiss, and then wait for suitable weather conditions to chuck it off a big hill.

Flying forecast for this weekend 11th/12th March

Hi guys. Don't the weeks just fly by eh. It's that time of the week again when I look at the flying prospects for the coming weekend. So here we go.

Saturday - A dry and mild day, so you can leave your thermals at home. Winds are forecast to be very light at 4 - 7 mph and south westerly. So your choices of slope will be Rhossili, Mickey's at the Bwlch, or Meio Common.

But with such a light wind, is it worth the effort? Why not break out that electric powered glider and do some thermal soaring.

Sunday - It looks like being rainy until about mid afternoon with a variable wind but coming mostly from the north west at 10 - 12 mph. If the rain does hold off, you could fly at Rhossily, the Ice Cream Slope at the Bwlch, Abertysswg, or Meio Common.

Yesterday, Sunday's forecast was showing the day to be dry, so I was going to head up to the Bwlch, but I doubt I'll bother now, but I will ensure I have a couple of models charged up on standby, just in case the forecast is wrong.

A reminder that there is rugby on in Cardiff this evening, Wales v Ireland, so the roads are likely to be choked. I shall be in Cardiff watching the game on a big screen. Come on Wales!

Have a good weekend ya'll.

Happy flying.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

This months Featured Post

Hi guys - Check out this months featured post which is taken from March 2016 and written by Clive I believe.

This Sunday is looking like a possible flying day 😊, so check out the weekend forecast here tomorrow.


Friday, 3 March 2017

Flying forecast 4th/5th February

I'm just going to get straight into the forecast this week, no messing about.

Saturday - This is looking to be the best day of the weekend. A cloudy day with some light showers possible in SE Wales. Wind about 10 mph and southerly but veering very slowly during the afternoon to south westerly.

For a southerly, Back of Wrecker is probably your best slope although you could give Southerndown a try whilst the wind is coming from the south, then if you are at Back of Wrecker, take the long walk over to Mickeys when the wind turns south westerly.

Sunday - is looking like being a rainy day with a mostly westerly wind of up to 17 mph. If you do fancy trying your luck, Mickey's is the place to go, but the cloud base will probably be very low up there, or you could try Eglwysilan Common or Rhossili.

As for me, I have some chores to do on Saturday before I can do some more work fitting servo's into the other wing on the L213. Then I have an early start on Sunday as I'm running in the Newport Half Marathon.

And that's your forecast. Have a good weekend all.