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 30 June 2017

Weekend forecast 1st/2nd July

I'm writing a short but sweet post today, so lets see what your flying possibilities are.

Saturday - A dry day with sunny intervals and a westerly of 13 mph. So your slope choices will be Rhossili, Mickey's, Eglwysilan and maybe Meio

Sunday - Another dry day with sunny intervals and a south westerly of 9 mph. So your slope choices will be Mickey's and Meio

I'm off to the Wales air show in Swansea on Saturday but I may get a chance to fly on Sunday, so I'll pack something light into the car.

Wherever you're going, happy flying.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Valenta L213 A on Meio Common

This was the first time I'd flown the 213 on Meio, so I was looking forward to it.

It's often a bit disconcerting when you arrive at Meio, get out of the car, and there's barely a breath of wind. But experience told me that at the top of the slope there should be more than enough to fly. And in fact, as I arrived, Chris was walking back down the slope having had a good flying session, and he confirmed that the lift was good and there were some good thermals coming through also.

There was a good 20 mph on the ridge, the air was smooth with great lift, and yes, some big thermals were coming through regularly. The only downside was that the air in the compression zone was pretty bumpy, but hey, you can't have everything.

I'm so glad I've mixed the spoilers in with crow which is making landing an absolute doddle and makes me look like I'm good at landing 😉

Check out the video.

Friday 23 June 2017

Flying forecast - weekend 24th/25th June

The steaming hot temperatures of the last week are behind us and the typically British summer weather has returned, which means better flying conditions. So without further ado, lets see what awaits us for this weekend.

Saturday - A dry day with light cloud and sunny intervals, winds westerly at around 13 - 15 mph, which hopefully will give you 18 - 20 on the slopes. Your slope choices will be Rhossili, Mickey's, Eglwysilan and Meio, although it will be off the face at Meio, but I know some of you prefer this to flying at Eglwysilan, due to the lack of car parking at Eglwysilan. Personally I would fly Eglwysilan to Meio in a westerly.

Sunday - Much the same as Saturday only a slightly stronger breeze at 14 - 17 mph.

I will probably fly at Egwysilan tomorrow afternoon for a couple of hours, and I know Big Phil is intending on going to Rhossili on Sunday. I would have joined him but I am running in the Swansea half marathon.

Have a great weekend all, whatever you are doing.

Happy flying.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Bwlchfest 2017 - The Video

Hey guys. Check out the video below of last weekends Bwlchfest, and if you haven't visited this blog during the past week, scroll down to see the full write up and pictures.

Friday 16 June 2017

Weekend Flying Forecast - 17th/18th June

So after the pretty awful, autumnal weather we experienced for Bwlchfest last weekend, this weekend is looking quite the opposite with very warm, sunny weather but light winds.

Saturday - A hot, sunny day with temperatures around 23°C and a light, westerly breeze of around 9 mph.
Your slope choices would be Rhossili, Mickey's, Eqlwysilan and Meio, in that order I think.

Sunday - Another hot and sunny day with temperatures around 25°C and a light SSW breeze of  4 mph.

Your slope choices will be Mickey's and Meio, but the wind will not be square onto the slope face if the SSW is correct, if you stick to the usual flying positions on Mickeys. You can also fly at various points before the cattle grid, which will put you squarer onto the wind.

If you do hit the slopes, you will need something that will fly in a very light breeze, particularly on Sunday, when you may have to dust off the DLG's and e-soarers.

As for me? I'm not going to fly this weekend. I'll be at Parkrun as usual first thing on Saturday morning then having a lazy day. Sunday I am running in the annual Caerphilly 10k race, around the town and its famous castle before enjoying a Fathers Day BBQ.

Have a good weekend all and happy flying.

Thursday 15 June 2017

Bwlchfest - More Photo's

Just to let you know that I've added some more photo's to the Bwlchfest Review post.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Bwlchfest 2017 Review

I awoke on Saturday morning and leapt out of my bed to draw the curtains to see if the previous evenings weather forecast was correct. It was cloudy but dry at least in Newport. BBC Wales had said that rain was due in around mid afternoon, but the BBC mobile phone app gave rain at Nant-y-moel from the early morning and all day long. I was hoping that the TV forecast was correct. I looked at a couple of other apps as well, and they all gave a different outlook to the days weather.

I went through my usual routine of getting myself dressed, have some breakfast and check that I have everything I could need for a full day on the slope.
Flask? - Check.
Food? - Check.
Models? - Check.
Transmitter? - Check.
And then I proceeded to load the car.

These days I tend to drive to the Bwlch by heading along the M4 motorway to Sarn Services, and then head north following signs for Bryncethin and Ogmore Vale, as there are fewer sets of traffic lights etc to slow me down.

As I was approaching my motorway exit junction, a few spots of rain began to appear on the windscreen, and by the time I had reached Ogmore Vale, the rain was lashing down, and by now I could see Back of Wrecker and Mickeys, both of which were shrouded in low cloud, or clag as the local fliers call it.

It was still only 9 o'clock when I arrived, and the snack van was already there parked in the lay-by, so I ordered a bacon butty and a coffee and chatted to the guy in the van before sitting back in the car and out of the rain to eat my food.

The snack van. Normally you could see the gravel track beyond which leads to Mickey's

Gradually, one by one, fliers arrived, I greeted them, we talked about the weather a little before getting back into our cars to shelter from the rain, which by now was flowing like a river down the Bwlch road.

By 11:30 I decided enough was enough. Even if the rain did stop, the ground on top of the mountain would be as soggy as a rice pudding, and not very pleasant to stand around in. So I made the decision to cancel Saturdays flying and informed everyone who was sat there and had waited patiently.

Sunday morning I went through the same routine as per Saturday and I began my journey.

Upon arrival there was low cloud, but it looked like it could clear, and there seemed to be enough wind but, it is sheltered at the lay-by from south westerly winds, and only upon arriving at the slope would I know what we were likely to be in store for.

Car after car arrived, and I was thinking, "this looks promising", and I greeted fliers as they approached the snack van to grab a coffee and a breakfast bap.

Kevin the sheep arrived and took a fancy to Andy Meade's bap. 

I had already mentioned on various internet posts that I would unlock the gate at 10 o'clock, and that is what happened and the procession of cars headed on up the winding gravel track, until we could go no further, which meant that we had arrived at the south west facing slope of Mickey's.

Once everyone had arrived, I gathered them all together for a short briefing, and then without further ado, the flying commenced, in wind speeds constantly of 36 mph but gusting to 44 mph.

Quite a lot of guys turned up with models that were pretty light, mostly chevron type wings, and they struggled to launch as the wind in the compression zone would just blow their model backwards but, if you got someone to launch for you, and they walked down the slope a little way, they could manage to launch, and with the pilot holding the elevator down a little, they were able to be on the sticks straight away and push the model through the compression into clear air with fabulous lift.

The PSS guys that had turned up were well used to this as they had flown on Mickey's before but, they are also used to flying on the big rock, otherwise known as the Great Orme.

Andy Meade had brought along his unflown ¼ scale Fox to maiden, which didn'y go quite to plan as it was a little tail heavy and really twitchy on launching. The second attempt saw it take to the sky.

When it came to landing it, he made the same error I did when I began flying my L213 in that it looked a lot closer to him than it actually was, and in fact it landed in the field beyond the track, causing a control snake to snap in the tail and a loose part of the canopy. I'm sure it will take to the sky again very soon.

Gradually during the day, people left in dribs and drabs until finally it was just the hardcore PSS guys and myself left, and by 6:30 we had cleared the slope.

So my thanks go to everyone who made the effort to travel, and it seemed we had people from most areas of England and Wales, but also to Robin who came from Germany and who also supplied T shirts and caps, and also to Dirk and his friend who made the trip from Belgium.

Enjoy the following photo's and I'm sure we will do it all again next year. If you have some more good quality pics, let me know and I will add them to this post.

Gathered together for the pre flight briefing

Gauging the surroundings and 40 mph + wind speed

Maiden flight of the Fox

Get ready .......

Oooops 😓

Away on the second attempt

The PSS posse 

See you all at Bwlchfest 2018 😊

Monday 12 June 2017

Bwlchfest - The day after

Hi guys.

I would like to thank all those who turned up yesterday for what turned out to be a great days flying, I think we had 33 fliers there sporting all types of model, from a ¼ scale Fox to chevron foamie wings, which I know some of you struggled to fly in the 40 plus mph winds.

Andy Mead with his big Fox on its maiden launch. Ooops!

Unfortunately Saturday was a total wash out with the rain just hammering down and a river running down the Bwlch road.

My Valenta L213 just loves big winds

I will follow up with a full report in the next few days.

A few of you were making enquiries about flying at the Bwlch and other local slopes and how to find out where people were flying on a weekend. Well I usually give a Flying Forecast on this blog on a Friday, and there is the Facebook group page, Slope Soaring in Wales where people often arrange to meet up. But I know some of you don't use Facebook.

I used to have a feature on this blog called the Shout Box, where you could register as a user and leave and receive messages, but I removed it because no one used it. If I felt this would get some use, then I would be happy to reinstate it. This could be used to contact other users and find out who was flying and where. The blog, Slope Soaring Sussex uses this very well, (you can see it on the right side of the main page). So if you think you would use this feature, drop me an email at steve.houghton59@gmail.com .

Saturday 10 June 2017

Bwlchfest Sunday Update

Sunday is looking like a fine flying day with light cloud and a good south westerly blowing.

Meet at the ice cream slope lay-by before 10am ready to go through the gate. Late comers will need to park in the lay-by or on the grassy area opposite and then walk up the gravel track to the right of the snack van.

I will leave a poster with the man in the snack van.

See you there.

Bwlchfest weather update

The weather forecast is constantly changing depending on which weather service you look at.

Some say the rain is due in between 2 pm & 3 pm, others say from about 10 am. Who do you believe?

I shall be there by 9 am and probably pick up a coffee and bacon butty from the van on the ice cream slope lay-by.

There could be a possible Plan B. If the rain, and that is a big IF, stays clear of the coast, we could always move to Southerndown and fly the sea cliffs there.

I shall wait at the Bwlch for a while to see who turns up and then we can make a decision there.

Looking on the bright side, Sunday is looking much, much better.

Friday 9 June 2017

Bwlchfest Saturday further weather update

So the latest forecast for tomorrow, (Saturday), is showing dry but cloudy with a southerly wind, (which still means flying on Back of Wrecker), until about 3 pm ish, when the wind shifts to south westerly and rain is due in.

If the rain keeps to the north of us, then we can up sticks and move over to Mickey's, the SW slope. But if the rain comes in, then a move to another slope is pointless, but at least we will have had a good few hours flying.

See you in the morning

Bwlchfest weather forecast

Hi all, I have to say I'm beginning to get a little excited, and nervous at the same time about my first Bwlchfest.

Yesterday the forecast was pants for the Saturday, and I was thinking that we'd have to give up on the flying and do a pub crawl in Cardiff instead.

Oh how 24 hours can make a difference.

Saturday - This is now looking like being a dry but cloudy day with a southerly wind, possibly swinging to south west later in the afternoon, of about 20 mph plus on the ridge.

Our choice of slope will be Back of Wrecker, so car parking can be in the Wrecker lay-by and along the road.

Ignore the Flying Area Here in the pic as this is the Wrecker. The Back of Wrecker is out of shot, just beyond where it says Landing Zone Here. You can see the track leading to the slope.

From the lay-by, walk across the road where you will see a trodden track leading to the brow of the hill. Take this track to the top, walk just a little further, and stop before you fall off the very steep cliff face.

I may just take us down to the left of the ridge a bit as the lift can be a bit better there, however you do have to land a little further back as it can suffer from a touch of rotor, whereas the higher point of the ridge doesn't suffer from rotor that much.

Sunday - This depends on which forecast you look at. The Met Office says rain but the BBC say mostly dry, and I don't trust the XC forecast any more as it has been wrong too many times for my liking.

But we are looking at a south westerly wind in excess of 20 mph, and so that means the Mickey's slope.

I will take a look at the forecast later this evening and post again should the forecast change, then again on Saturday evening and post anyway.

I look forward to seeing you all there 👍

Thursday 8 June 2017

Bwlchfest update - Thursday 8th June

The current weather forecast for Saturday is total pants, with rain for most of the day. 

With the Bwlch being around 1400 ft ASL, this means that the cloud base will be very low also and so visibility is likely to be nil.

Sunday is looking like being the better day with sunshine and showers.

But I'm not going to be all doom and gloom just yet, because as anyone who flies slope regularly will know that the forecast can change overnight.

If the weather is rubbish on Saturday and we can't fly, I think Robin is interested in checking out the pubs in Cardiff, and I will be more than happy to be his guide 😉

Watch this space

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Bwlchfest - 3 days and counting

So with only three days to go, I couldn't help but check out the BBC weather this morning and, at the moment, they are forecasting sunshine and showers, with Sunday being the better day. I'm sure other weather apps will tell a different story, they always do. By tomorrow evening we will have a better idea as to what we can expect weather wise.

Sunshine and showers I can cope with, heavy low cloud could be a problem as the Bwlch is so high above sea level that it can easily become shrouded in cloud, known locally as "clag". This will totally ruin our flying, and many a F3F competition has been cancelled on the day due to the clag.

But the clag can also clear, as it did a couple of weeks ago when a PSS meet was held here. The band of rain cleared, and the clag dissipated, and the slope was totally clear by 11am.

Keep your fingers crossed guys.

Friday 2 June 2017

Weekend Flying Forecast 3rd/4th June

Here we are again with another weekend upon us, and if you're thinking of getting out to the slopes, here is what you can expect.

Saturday - A sunny, bright day with a 12 mph westerly, which means about 20 mph on the slope.

Your slope choices will be Mickey's, Rhossili, Eglwysilan and Meio, although this will be a off the main face. You can fly on the point but due to its shape, the lift isn't great.

Sunday - Sunshine and showers are the order of the day with an 11 mph south westerly, so your slope choices are Mickey's and Meio.

I may be able to get a couple of hours flying in on Saturday afternoon. I will probably try Eglwysilan , and as I have to drive past Meio to get there, I will stop to check that the wind direction is actually westerly, and not south westerly.

My friend Robin should be arriving in the area on Saturday with his Austrian friends, and I did say that I would try to get out to fly on Monday or Wednesday evening, however, the forecast looks like total pants for Monday, with rain and a 20 - 30 mph southerly wind, and Wednesday is much to far away to take a forecast seriously. I will be keeping a very close eye on the forecast though over the coming week and keeping my fingers crossed for favourable flying conditions for Bwlchfest next weekend.

Until next time friends
Happy flying

Thursday 1 June 2017

Cardiff Area Flying Restrictions

Due to the Champions League football finals, the authorities have created a "no fly zone" around Cardiff, effective from 10:00 hours today through to 17:00 hours on Sunday 4th June.

This will effect Cardiff MAC, Gaer Park MAC, but Eglwysilan MAC may be just on the edge, the map isn't clear enough but I would think they'd be OK. Which means that for us slopers, Meio Common is likely to be the only slope affected, but as this is next to the Eglwysilan MAC, I doubt whether there would be an issue.