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.

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 😊


  1. Nice write up! Looking forward to the next one :)

  2. I've just edited it slightly Andy to say something about your Fox. Hopefully there will be some video when I get time to do some editing.