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.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

PSSA Fly for Fun Meeting

We had wind! Yep, really, good eh!

The Saturday began with the Bwlch covered in clag and with regular rain showers but, the forecast was for this band of weather to clear by about 10AM, and sure enough, by 10:15 I felt confident enough to open the forestry gate which leads to the south westerly slope called Mickeys, and the vehicle procession headed on up the rough gravel track.

There was a good wind blowing and before long, the local guys were showing the way by launching first but, it wasn't long before the others had rigged up their models and were flying also.

At about 12:30, rain stopped play for about 30 minutes, giving everyone a chance to partake in some refreshment, but play resumed soon enough and the wind increased to about 30 mph in the compression zone.

There were some new models, and a lot of familiar models, and also a mid air collision between Mike Grey's Avro Vulcan and John Trebles Avro 707, with quite a bit of foam raining down to earth.

By about 6pm, most of us had had enough fun and felt the need to leave the slope in order to have a wash and brush up before dinner that evening.

Sunday saw a completely different day, with a light south easterly blowing, so that saw us on Back of Wrecker, a slope which we haven't flown on before at a PSSA event.

The first day saw about 20 participants, however, this had dwindled to about half of that figure for the Sunday, due to the local guys having had their fill on the Saturday.

Back of Wrecker can be a funny slope! It can be smooth or turbulent. On this day it began smooth but as the wind picked up to about 22 mph, the air became a bit thermic and lumpy, so not the best of conditions. But the guys made the most of the conditions we had, and I think most had an enjoyable day.

Phil Cook flew his FMS micro Alpha Jet, and I was amazed that something so small and light would fair so well in a 20 mph wind.

And this was Andy Meade's Vulcan bomber complete with Blue Steel missile

For your info, both videos were shot on my iPhone 6 and edited on the slope using the GoPro Quik app.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Bwlchfest 2017

Hi all

Well Bwlchfest is almost upon us, and I am just hoping that I have thought about everything that I need to, to make it all run smoothly. Although this is a Fly For Fun event, not a competition, so it is basically a, turn up, fly, chat with like minded people, and have fun kind of day.

I know Robin has the T shirts and caps that were ordered, and he is due to arrive in Gods playground on Saturday with his Austrian friends. I am hoping to meet up with them either on Monday evening after work or, on Wednesday after work at the Bwlch.

On Thursday the 8th I will be glued to the weather forecast and posting on here which of the seven slopes we are likely to be flying, so please keep coming back to check for updates.

I am hoping to have the forestry gate key for access to Mickey's, (the south west and westerly slopes) but that isn't guaranteed at the moment. Fingers crossed eh. However, the problem with having the key is that the gate MUST be locked at all times, and so that means that if you arrive after we have proceeded to Mickey's, or need to leave early, then you will have to take the 15 ish minute walk up there. Do you know I've never actually timed how long it takes to walk up there.

So if you are unsure of which each of the slopes is, and what wind direction they are, then please look at the Flying Sites page on this blog, that way, you will know where we are on the day.

When I was at the Bwlch last weekend, I was chatting to the guy who runs the snack van up there, grabbing a bacon butty and a cuppa whilst waiting for the weather to clear, and he said to me, "oh, you're one of these guys that flies the model gliders eh"? " Do you know there's a big do on here next month, Bwlchfest I think it's called"? Word gets around eh.

So if you are unsure where to go, ask the guy in the snack van and I'll leave details with him, I'm sure if you buy a butty and a coffee he will tell you all you need to know.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

More PSS meeting stuff

Just to allow a little competitiveness to this weekends event, there will be prizes for;
  • best flown prop model
  • best flown jet model
  • model of the event
The prizes will be given on Sunday but pilots votes can consider models flown either/both days.

We will probably hold a bomb dropping competition also, which could be held on both days but we will make a decision at the time based upon safety due to the close proximity of the F3F competitors. And no, you are not allowed to drop your bombs on them.

The forecast at the moment is showing a SW wind on Saturday, which is perfect for us and having Mickeys all to ourselves.

On Sunday the wind changes to a southerly, so a move to Back of Wrecker is on the cards and we will car park in the Wrecker lay-by. The F3F guys will take the lower section of the slope to the left whilst we have the higher section to the right, and they will park at the side of the road which divides Back of Wrecker and the VR98. There will be plenty of room between the two groups so there is no need to worry, but please be vigilant to be on the safe side.

This will work well for us, however, the lower left hand section can suffer from rotor, so some F3F competitors may walk up to our position to land on the brow of the hill, so just keep your eyes open when planning your landings.

One last thing, one F3F competitor is flying on ch72 35Mhz, so please keep channels 71, 72 & 73 clear, just to be on the safe side.

Wrecker car parking

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

PSSA Fly for Fun Weekend 20th - 21st May

I'm collecting the Mickeys gate key tomorrow evening, so I will probably be at the Bwlch on Friday at around 5:30 ish for anyone who wants to fly and doesn't want to walk up the hill, and I will be there for maybe a couple of hours.

On Saturday morning I will unlock the gate at 10 AM to let the procession of vehicles through, but then I have to lock the gate behind us, so I'm afraid that anyone arriving after this time, or needs to leave early, before the masses do, will need to walk.

On Sunday we do have to slope share with a F3F comp, however this could yet be cancelled, I will know more on Friday evening. This is not ideal I know.

The current forecast for Sunday is for a SSW wind, which makes it "off face" on the main Mickeys slope, however I need to check but I do seem to remember flying the same ridge at a spot before the cattle grid and dew pond, which I think would put us square onto the wind, and far enough away from the F3F boys so that there would be no interference.

If this is not the case, then I have made arrangements to use the Eglwsilan Model Flying Club field for car parking, (thanks to Andy Watts for this), and we can fly the SW slope of Meio Common, which is only about a 10 minute drive from Pontypridd. It's only a short walk from the field to the slope, and the slope generates good lift, little turbulence usually, and a good LZ. All the locals love this slope.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy flying


Monday, 15 May 2017

SWSA Meeting

This is just to say that a successful meeting was held on Friday 12th May and that a new committee was formed to kick start life back into the old South Wales Soaring Association.

The club is already BMFA affiliated but I shall be contacting the BMFA in due course to update our details, and we shall also be using the BMFA to host our new web site.

There are exciting times ahead.


Friday, 12 May 2017

Weekend Flying Forecast 13th/14th May

Hi guys

Event wise I don't think there's anything happening this weekend, except for the SWSA meeting this evening, and I hope to see a lot of you there.

Next weekend, 20th/21st sees the PSSA Fly for Fun meet at the Bwlch, so please come along, even if you don't have a PSS model to fly, and pray for some good weather eh.

So here we go with the forecast.

Saturday - A bright day with a SSW - SW wind of 10 - 12 mph.

Sunday - Sunny intervals with possible rain showers and a SW wind of 12 - 14 mph.

Your slope choices will be Mickeys or Meio. I will be flying on Saturday, and most likely fly on Mickeys as there will be more wind up there than on Meio.

Have a great weekend all. Happy flying.


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

SWSA Reminder

Hey guys, just a reminder that this Friday evening we have a meeting of the SWSA at the Rose & Crown, Eglwysilan, beginning promptly at 8 pm, so please arrive a little earlier to grab a drink and take your place in the conservatory at the back of the pub.

I look forward to seeing many of you there.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

It's alright for some!

Our friend Robin posted on Facebook a few days ago. He was flying from Monte Cornetto in northern Italy, (I can hear the sniggers already, and no it isn't a Walls ice cream lol 😂).

And here is a picture of Robin with his X Models Swift 2.5m on the left and his Rotmilan (Red Kite) on the right.

I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Robin hopefully fly the Swift at Bwlchfest in June.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Manmoel Common flying

Hi guys

I met up with Nick Rees on Saturday at Manmoel Common for an afternoon session.

The wind was supposed to be coming from a ENE direction, however when I got there it was definitely slightly off face and a NE, so we would have been better going to Fochriw. However, we decided to stick it out at Manmoel.

I rigged up the 213 which now has its new livery.

After making  repairs from my landing out the previous weekend, the CoG had moved slightly and it was a little nose heavy, but the flight was fine until I discovered after landing that one of the flap servo mounts had come a little unstuck, so that needs sorting out this week.

Nick had brought along a NCFM M60 and a 3m Pilatus B4. However, I think the 30 mph wind was a little too much for the B4 and during the flight we could see the wings flexing quite a lot, and then suddenly they appeared to have an extraordinary amount of dihedral, so something had obviously gone wrong and Nick quite rightly decided to try for a landing.

Fortunately the ailerons and air brakes were still operative and amazingly he managed to land it safely, as you can see from the following photographs.

Nick had replaced the carbon wing joiner with an alloy one, and in that wind it just wasn't up to the job and it had bent. I think he will resume using the carbon joiner.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Weekend Flying Forecast 6th/7th May

Hello again fellow fliers, the weekend is upon us and there could be some good flying to be had on Saturday by the looks of it.

There was a PSS event planned to take place at Long Mynd on Sunday, but the slopes there only work on a westerly, and it is looking like we are going to have a northerly. As a result, this event has been CANCELLED.

So here is your forecast.

Saturday - A cloudy but dry day with a north easterly of about 13 - 15 mph. So your slope choices will be The Wrecker, Fochriw, and you may get away with trying Manmoel and Meio. So you're spoiled for choice.

Sunday - Another dry but cloudy day, but that forecast 5 mph wind looks like its going to be northerly or NNW. So your choices of slope will the VR98 or Hirwaun.

I will probably spend most of Saturday afternoon flying, and I will probably go to Fochriw. But if the para glider guys are there in force, and the wind isn't too strong for them, then I may move to the Bwlch and fly the Wrecker.

I won't be flying on Sunday as I'm racing in the Great Run Simply Health Bristol 10K. Take a look at my new running/training blog once I get it up and running.

I hope I'll see some of you on the slope on Saturday, if not, have a great weekend all.

Happy flying


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

South Wales Soaring Association (SWSA)

Calling all existing SWSA members, and those interested in a relaunching of the club.

There will be a meeting at the Rose & Crown, Eglwysilan (near Caerphilly, Pontypridd), beginning promptly at 8pm on Friday 12th May to discuss getting this club up and running again, so please arrive at least 10 minutes early to give yourselves time to purchase a beverage before the meeting begins.

There is a large car park to the side of the pub and we have been given access to the conservatory to hold this meeting.

For those of you who fly on Meio, you will know where this pub is, which is only a few hundred metres from the Meio slope. The postcode is CF37 5BJ if you want to look it up on Google maps.

I hope we will have a reasonable turnout as this could be beneficial to all who fly in SE Wales in particular, S Wales generally, and the F3F competition fliers who fly at the Bwlch.

Please contact me if you require any further info regarding the venue, but questions regarding the club will be dealt with at the meeting only.