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.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Genesis SL maiden flight

Yayyyyyy I've finally managed to maiden the Genesis 😊

On Saturday afternoon I took the Genesis and Wildthing up to Meio Common for an hour or two's flying session. I was the only person there, the wind was a bit variable, WNW - NW and chilly.

I had been having some issues with one of the elevon control snakes on the Genesis as I had used CA to glue them into the quick link extender. It just wasn't taking for some reason and once on the slope I discovered that this was the case again. I really should have checked it before leaving home. Fortunately I still had the Wildthing to fly. But there was something very strange happening with that also.

Upon launching I needed loads of down elevator trim, but also, a ton of right aileron was needed also. I can understand a few clicks of down elevator and aileron but the amount I had to give it was ridiculous. So I don't know why such a drastic change was needed as I haven't altered anything, so a major inspection is required.

I did get the Wildthing flying well and the wind was quite good, although with some thermals coming through I did get caught out once or twice in the black hole left behind in the thermals wake and the model would sink like a stone.

Chris turned up, shortly followed by Nick. Chris set up his Ascot F3F but there was a problem with one of the aileron servos not wanting to work, so he had to resort to only flying his M60.

A passing shower of rain mixed with hail curtailed flying for a short while, but once the sun reappeared, the wind died along with it and we found ourselves scratching around for lift. So Chris and I decided to pack up for the day and headed on home and watch the rugby.

I had been to a charity fundraiser on Saturday evening with Michelle, who had stayed over at my place, but after she left me by mid morning I was able to use 15 minute epoxy to glue that snake into both extenders on the Genesis and I headed up to the Bwlch where I knew a few of the guys were heading to fly on the NW facing Ice Cream Slope.

As I was beginning my walk up to the slope, I heard my phone bleep with a message and noticed a couple of the guys beginning to walk back to the lay-by. The wind was changing direction and so a walk over to the westerly side of Mickeys was required.

Mike and David decided they'd had enough and were going home, which left Richard and myself to carry on and walk up the track.

We did try to fly right at the top of track, just where it levels out, which gave me a chance for a couple of tentative throws over a gentle part of the slope, before it went over the steep part, to check out whether I had added enough balance weight into the nose and also to check the control throws and trim.

With a couple of adjustments made, I launched it off the slope, and it flew OK with just a couple of clicks of trim required to get it to fly straight and level. I made a few gentle figure of eight passes along the slope and I gained some height in order to perform a dive test to test the C of G position, although I was sensing it felt good, and in fact it was spot on, neither wanting to pull out or tuck under in the dive. It did need more aileron authority so I flicked a switch on the TX to change to high rates, and that improved the roll rate immediately with much quicker rolls and sharper turns.

The wind was still changing direction and it was becoming increasingly difficult to fly from left to right, so we moved a bit further along, and shortly after we had to move again to the furthest westerly part of Mickeys, where it was better but the air was very turbulent, which is strange for this slope as the air is usually very smooth.

It didn't take me long to get used to flying the Genesis and before long Richard and I were performing some formation flying with his Genesis and generally having a good time.

Eventually the cold got the better of our hands and we decided to call it a day after a couple of hours flying.

It appears that my idea of changing from exposed elevon control rods, (which could be susceptible to damage during a combat session), to burying snakes into the foam, was a good one as they worked very well. My "sandwich" method of covering this type of foam model works very well indeed too. My Wildthing was the first model I tried this method on and two years later, with a lot of flying under its belt, it still looks superb.

So check out the video guys and let me know what you think.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Weekend flying forecast 25th/26th November

Well guys, there are only four weeks to go until the big, Ho, Ho, Ho and Santa comes knocking delivering all sorts of RC goodies. But until then there is still some flying to do, including this weekend. But you'll have to wrap up warm because it's going to be mighty cold on them there slopes.

Saturday - A sunny day but with temperatures at sea level of around 2°C it's likely to be a hell of a lot colder at altitude. Wind is NW around 14 mph, so likely to be 20 - 25 on the slopes.

Sunday - A cloudier day with temperatures around 4°C and a 12 mph NW wind, so roughly the same as Saturday.

Your slope choices will be Mickey's, Abertysswg and Meio. I'm probably going to have an hour or two on Meio on Saturday as I want to maiden the Genesis. But I really need to do some Christmas shopping on Sunday. Oh joy!


Monday, 20 November 2017

Zagi Bash

So I was up at the crack of dawn yesterday so that I could be at the Bwlch for a 9 AM start but, upon arrival there was barely a breath of wind.

A few of us local, hardy souls made it by 9 AM but we quickly realised that there wouldn't be enough wind that day in order to hold successful combat sorties, so after chewing the fat for an hour, we decided to call it a day and we went home. I believe a few guys went back in the afternoon but from what I could gather there was only enough lift to just cruise gently along the slope face.

This event will now be held on Thursday 28th December. Unfortunately I can't make that date as I'm away in Lancashire visiting family, but I hope some of you will attend.


Friday, 17 November 2017

Weekend Flying Forecast & Zagi Bash

I hope everyone has had a good week? This Sunday is looking like being the best flying day of the weekend although the wind is looking light.

Saturday - Rain is forecast with a 14 mph westerly wind, so if you can get away from that rain then there could be some good flying to be had either at Rhossili or on Mickey's at the Bwlch.

Sunday (Zagi Bash day) - A dry but cloudy day with a 6 mph south westerly forecast. So your slope choices will be Mickey's at the Bwlch or Meio Common.

That being the case, Zagi Bash will take place on Mickey's, but I'm guessing that people will meet up at the Ice Cream slope lay by.  Now the Bwlch can be a bit of a funny place when wind under 10 mph is forecast. Usually you can count on there being up to 10 mph more wind up there than is forecast for Cardiff airport, but if less than 10 is forecast than one of two things can happen, in my experience.
  1. You will get more wind, and so with 6 mph forecast there could be 10 - 12 mph, or
  2. The wind remains at 6 mph.
I have experienced both. There have been days when I've driven up there and the leaves on the trees have barely been moving, and I have convinced myself that there will be more wind up there. However, upon arriving at the slope there has still been barely a breath of wind. That has happened on more occasions than I care to remember.

The first time we held a PSSA event on Mickey's, we walked up to the slope and I had to resort to flying a powered thermal soarer as there was barely a breath of wind. The wind did pick up by midday to about 12 mph if my memory is correct, but this is hardly what you want for a slope combat competition. Lets keep our fingers crossed that the forecast changes before Sunday and we have some fun, combat flying.

See you there.

The Bwlch

Monday, 13 November 2017

Demise of the Moth?

Yesterday I headed up to the Bwlch for a foamie flying session, where I met up with Mike, Phil, Josh and Clive.

I was intending on checking the balance and control throws on the Genesis before next Sunday's Zagi Bash, but it was clear as soon as I launched it that the model was tail heavy, as the elevator was extremely sensitive, and it hit the ground with a thud, causing one of the elevon snakes to become unstuck from the metal snap link. So with the Genesis safely back in the car I grabbed the Moth to give that a fly.

Now in colder conditions I wear a pair of thermal, finger less gloves to keep my hands from getting cold, but they also allow me to operate switches etc easily enough. But after attempting to fly the Genesis, my fingers were frozen and I decided to put on a pair of proper gloves.

The launch of the Moth was fine, however it needed some up elevator trim adding as it constantly wanted to dive, and I attempted to do this by feel whilst keeping my eye on the model. But the next thing I knew, the model was diving and I had no control over it. I looked down at the TX and noticed that I'd only gone and switched it off by mistake and I then quickly turned it back on again, but by this time it was too late and the model had already disappeared below the ridge line.

I got as close to the edge of the ridge as I dare but I could see no sign of it, so there was nothing else to do other than drive down to the lay by close to the hairpin bend in the road and walk up the side of the slope to see if I could find it.

As I left the road, I found the ground was very deceiving. It was very long, tufty dried grass, but underneath it was full of deep holes, and boggy too, which you just couldn't see. All the while my eyes were scanning the slope for any sign of the purple and yellow colour scheme.

Now it had to be around the slope somewhere as it wasn't that far out when it went down, and the 25 mph ish wind would have pushed it closer into the slope, but I was having no luck where I was and so I decided to go back up to the top and then traverse the slope about 30 metres from the top, beginning at the far end where the access is easier.

The closer I got to the Wrecker part of the slope, the more difficult the terrain became and I felt I could go no further as this could compromise my own safety, and so I headed back.

By now I was wet and tired and ready to go home. Mike said he'd be taking his dog for a walk on Monday and so would have a look for it then, and today I have heard from him and he couldn't see it, so he's going to send a drone down for a closer look.

The NCFM Moth 48"

Friday, 10 November 2017

New Featured Post

Winter arrives at the Bwlch was published in November 2015. I remember this well as Phil was flying for the first time the 2ch (rudder/elevator) glider he'd picked up. No sooner had he landed it then he was selling it on eBay.

Wayne was struggling to get his Mk3 Wildthing in the air and keep it there in the light air, a problem I didn't have with my Mk2 Wildthing, which flew lovely as usual. I still say the Mk2 wing is way better than the Mk3, particularly in lighter conditions.

Whatever happened to Wayne? We don't see him anymore. Maybe wifey banned him from coming out with the boys and having fun.

Anyway, check out the post and video in the left hand side bar.

Weekend Flying Forecast 11th/12th November and other stuff

So it's the middle of November and apart from a couple of frosty mornings, it still isn't very cold, which suits me fine as I'm definitely a warm weather person.

Saturday - a rainy day with a 15 mph NW breeze.

Sunday - a bright and sunny but cooler day with a 16 mph NW breeze

Your slopes of choice will be the Ice Cream slope at the Bwlch, Abertysswg, or if you only have an hour or two to spare and don't want to travel very far, Meio Common.

I have some time available on Sunday so I may just head up to Meio or the Ice Cream slope, depending on where others fancy flying.

Zagi Bash 

Just a reminder that Zagi Bash is taking place at the Bwlch on the following Sunday, the 19th. Obviously we won't know which slope until nearer the time as it is weather forecast dependent.

I have just finished building my Genesis SL for this event and I used my usual laminate sandwich method for the build, (see my Wildthing rebuild for details). This has really stiffened up the foam wing and adds plenty of bash resistance. I also used control snakes for the elevons instead of wire rods, and buried the snakes into the foam as exposed wire control rods are easily damaged as a point of contact during combat. In fact I have tried to reduce any point of contact that could result in damage to the model.

This needs a test flight this weekend. I balanced it roughly last night so I need to get that right before next Sunday, even if it means going out the day before too.

The top

The underside

Valenta L213A Video

A few weeks ago I was on Meio with a few others and Chris took some video of me flying my L213. The wind was light, at about 15 mph ish if I remember correctly, but Big Bird, (as I affectionately call the L213), flew very nicely indeed. Here is the video and enjoy your weekend.