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 July 2019

Weekend Forecast is pants!

I normally wouldn't be looking at the weekends weather forecast until Thursday, however, Nick and I had planned to pay a visit to our slope soaring friends at Slope Soaring Sussex this weekend, and so with hotel rooms to book and a three hour plus drive down there, we've been keeping an eye on the forecast all week.

The forecast isn't great with light winds of 8 - 11 mph from the south ish, and so Nick and I have discussed, and spoken with Paul down in Sussex and we have decided to postpone our trip and look at some possible dates, probably towards the end of September, when hopefully the autumn winds will have kicked in.

The forecast for S Wales this weekend isn't any better really but, it's much worse for those taking part in the PSSA fly in at the Orme in N Wales where the forecast is for a variable breeze of 1 - 3 mph, a final decision on this event will be made on Thursday. It maybe that I can get a couple of hours on Meio on Sunday for some thermal flying from the slope, we'll see. I hope so because I have a very busy August and may not get a chance to fly at all at the weekends due to running a half marathon, visiting my parents and international rugby games, Wales v England and Wales v Ireland which are "friendlies" prior to the Rugby World Cup in Japan this autumn.

So here is a video I made the last time I made the trip to fly on the South Downs of Sussex. Happy flying wherever you are.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Slope Soaring can be a lonely existence

I put a shout out on the Slope Soaring in Wales and South Wales Soaring Association Facebook group pages last Friday to see if anyone was going to be about on Saturday to join me in a spot of flying.

The forecast was for cloudy with sunny intervals and a westerly wind of 16 - 18 mph. This would give me three slope options, Rhossili which is a 90 minute drive but the best slope I've ever flown, Mickey's at the Bwlch, (the 2nd best slope I've ever flown), and Eglwysilan Common near Pontipridd. Meio also flies on a westerly, although not very well as the westerly part of the slope is where the slope transitions from south westerly to north westerly, so its curved and has a very narrow band of lift, so I was going to discount this slope straight away to fly from.

The only response to my Facebook shout out was from Nick who asked where I was going to fly although he wouldn't be able to join me anyway. My response was that if there were a few of us then I would head to Mickey's but, if I were to fly alone then Eglwysilan Common would be my choice.

There is very little in the way of car parking on the Eglwysilan road, without having to park a long way away, which is why I tend to head there if I'm flying a westerly alone, but I managed to pull in on a wide ish pull in with two wheels on the grass verge and only a short walk ahead of me. Upon arriving at my favourite spot I checked the wind speed and it was smack bang straight onto the slope and showing 16 - 20 mph. Perfect!

I launched the Genesis foamie wing and that flew fabulously with no sign of any turbulence or buffeting, so I was then glad that I'd also brought the L213 with me as I haven't flown this in weeks due to the lack of wind.

I assembled the L213 and threw it off the hill. It climbed away and there was just enough wind to perform a few aero's and feel confident that I wasn't going to have to retrieve it from the bottom of the hill. I've never weighed this model but it is quite a lump, and it will cruise in a 15 mph breeze but I don't usually like to fly it unless the wind is blowing about 20 mph, preferring to opt for something smaller or lighter for the fun factor in lighter conditions.

Many of the TX settings for the L213 were way out, so I used this session to constantly take off and land and make adjustments to CROW, Thermal and Speed flap settings, and I now think I have these dialled in just about right now.

It was very peaceful on the hill, all by myself, and sometimes the solitude can be nice. There was a couple of walkers who came along and saw me flying but I didn't realise they were there until I brought the L213 around on the base leg for finals and I saw them directly behind me, right in my LZ. Fortunately I had plenty of height and I went around again. Obviously I wasn't going to be able to land directly behind me, and the couple were obviously wanting to watch me land, even though they were completely oblivious of standing in the "danger zone", so I walked over to their left in the hope that they wouldn't move with me, which they didn't, but I took the 213 too far back on the base leg due to a lack of concentration, (keeping one eye on the model and the other on the couple), and I lost the lift. I thought I was going to tip stall and hit the ground with a bang but as fortune would have it I recovered and brought her in OK. Phew!

All in all it was an enjoyable session of flying and I managed to iron out a few of the settings bugs I had with the L213. I do enjoy flying this small, slope and it's perfect on a westerly if there are only a couple of you having to park cars. In fact I'm the only person I know who does actually fly there, others seem to go to Meio and put up with the wind being well off the south westerly slope face.

So check out my video, hit the Like πŸ‘button, share it with your friends on social media and subscribe to my channel, pleeeeeease 😊

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Featured Post Update and last weekends flying

Hey guys, I've changed the Featured Post to a post from July 2016 called Ballistic Lift on Mickey's. Now this is where we should be flying by now, on Mickey's Meio or Rhossili with westerly and south westerly winds. Last Sunday Nick, Dave & myself met up at The Bwlch with the intention of flying Mickey's, however there was a very low cloud base which was just skirting the top of the slope so we made the decision to go to Meio.

What a difference Meio was compared with dark, cold Bwlch. The sun was shining and it was definitely warmer. Once we'd walked up the side of the slope to the top there was a really good breeze blowing but, upon chucking a model off we discovered that it was really bumpy, turbulent air and not much fun to fly, which is unusual for Meio.

I was flying my Ballistik chevron wing and went to perform a reversal but in the bumpy air I overcooked the maneuver and in the process of trying to recover the model I lost it completely and it went down. Fortunately the only damage was a bit of dented EPP foam which should easily be repaired.

Dave flew his Mini Blade and he also went down after he zigged when he should have zagged. Again there wasn't too much damage and I'm sure that will be back in the air in no time.

Nick had brought along his now completed Graecalis but we all thought it wise that he didn't send it out on its maiden flight as trying to trim a new model in those conditions wouldn't have been easy or fun. I'll leave you with a few pictures of it anyway.

As for this weekend? Saturday is currently looking like a light north westerly up to 10 mph and Sunday, well that's a day for the DLG's or power assisted models to do some thermal soaring.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Will the east & south east winds ever end?

It seems that we have endured easterly or south easterly winds for months now! Any of you who know the slopes of SE Wales will know that these are the two worst wind directions for our flying, particularly as we have lost the north easterly slope at Fochriw to fly since Caerphilly council erected a locked gate at either end of the road, effectively closing down this slope to us, and all because they haven't got the financial resources to police the fly tipping that has been going on. But if the council didn't charge businesses so much to dump their waste at official tips then they wouldn't have this problem. But that's me straying off the wind direction subject. I still find it annoying though, if you hadn't already guessed.

So I had last Saturday free to do a bit of flying, and the forecast was for sunny, warm skies with a SE to SSE wind of 7 - 8 mph, so I contacted Nick to see if he fancied joining me somewhere, as I knew he'd be wanting to fly his new acquisition, the E-flite Mystique for a bit of slope thermal flying. So the question was where to fly? I suggested the Bwlch but Nick suggested Blaen Bran at Cwmbran. Now Id forgotten about this slope which I haven't flown for probably a couple of years at least, and that does fly south easterly. It isn't the best slope, especially for landing as the ground is covered in long, tough ferns, and as I discovered, it's incredibly difficult to get your model down to land. More of this later.

I loaded the car with two models, the Multiplex Heron,
Multiplex Heron 
(just in case there was less wind than forecast and I needed electric power assist to fly), and my trusty old X Models Whisper.
X Models Whisper
Now the last time I went to fly the Whisper, one of the flaps wasn't working, so I'd looked to see if it was just a loose connection but the servo still didn't want to work, so I assumed that the servo was kaput, but on Friday evening I thought Id try out the servo and if it didn't work, then I had a mini servo spare I could use temporarily but, lo and behold, the flap worked when I tried it, so I guess there must be a loose connection somewhere and I decided I'd take the Whisper and chance the servo.

It was a good hike up to the top, and there was a guy up there flying a powered model, some E-flite pylon type racer, so I joined him and he introduced himself to me as Paulo, originally from Brazil but has lived in Newport for ten years. The breeze was gusting to an estimated 10 mph which I knew should be enough for the Whisper to keep airborne, and then as long as there was thermal activity I should be able to stay up quite well. So I assembled the Whisper, switched on the receiver and yes, the flap was still working, so I launched it off the slope. The wings wobbled a bit initially but I pushed out and the model found some slope lift and thermal activity and it wasn't long before I had enough height to feel comfortable.

I'd been cruising around for a few minutes, flying from thermal to thermal when I caught Nick walking towards me in the corner of my eye, so I decided to land for a chat. This was when I discovered how difficult it was going to be to land. I had good height and flew the down wind leg and lined her up, pushed the nose down slightly before activating CROW braking, but it didn't seem to slow down and I was struggling to lose any height, so I went around again, and again, so I walked further back and I knew I just had to be more forceful with it and I finally got it down. Phew! I later found that there was some great thermal activity going on in the landing zone, so much so that on another landing I was caught in a thermal and circling very quickly, almost DS style with the sound of the wind over the airframe, as you get with glass models.

Nick flew his Mystique and encountered the same difficulty in getting his bird down that I had, and as I had to leave at around 3:30 PM he flew his Flip and had some cracking thermals by all accounts with him reaching an ASL of 1200 feet.

So all in all it was a good session but, by now we should really be having winds coming from a SW or westerly direction so that we could be flying from Meio, Mickeys or Rhossili. However, if the forecast for the coming weekend remains the same, then those westerlies should make a welcome return and hopefully I can get some flying in on Sunday.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

PSSA Fly for Fun meet

Hi all. This is just a reminder that this weekend, 11th - 12th May the PSSA will be holding their annual Fly for Fun weekend at the Bwlch. This weekend has become a firm favourite of PSSA members offering different slopes, flying conditions and scenery to the usual events held in N Wales.

If you are intending on attending this event, please be at the Ice Cream Slope car parking lay-by before 10 AM on both days for a briefing, otherwise you may not know which slope we will be flying from on a particular day.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Visitors from Slope Soaring Sussex

Sunday morning was beautiful, as the weather had been from the beginning of the Easter holiday on Friday. However, there was very little wind, which we had anticipated from looking at the weather forecasts so, when Paul and Ian of Slope Soaring Sussex told me that Sunday was their only available flying day of the extended weekend, we told them to bring light wind models with them, with also something that could fly in a slightly stronger breeze, just in case.

Paul and Ian had only arrived at The Wrecker lay-by at the Bwlch  just a few minutes before me and the weather forecast was accurate so far with a cloudless sky and a very light north easterly breeze, so we began flying from the Wrecker. They unpacked and assembled a couple of F3J models, Paul an Xperience Pro and Ian a Nan Shadow, which flew very well in the light breeze. There were some good thermals beginning to show also but, very quickly the wind began to shift around to a south easterly direction as had been forecast. We had anticipated this and moved over the hill behind us to the Back of Wrecker slope, however, at this moment there didn't seem to be enough slope lift to risk launching even the F3J models, so we gave them a throw from the top of the hill between the two slopes and managed to pick up thermals to give us some altitude. I cheated and used the motor on my Multiplex Heron to gain some initial height and quickly got into a thermal that took me way high. So much so that I had to bail out of the thermal and use crow braking to bring it down to a reasonable height.

The wind did pick up a little with an estimated 6 - 7 mph on the edge. The F3J models didn't have a problem with this at all but, as the lift was coming and going, and there being huge patches of sink being left behind by the thermals, when the lads tried to fly their F3F models, they would have to make a hasty retreat back to the grass for a landing, as landing out is definitely not an option on this slope.

The weather could only have been better if we'd had another 10 miles of wind to play with but, we still had a lot of fun. Check out the video below.

Friday, 12 April 2019

A strange wind day at Manmoel

I met Nick at Manmoel at around 12:45, it was a cloudy day with sunny intervals and a very chilly wind blowing in from the east. I walked the 200 metres or so from the car to the slope edge where Nick was already in the air with his SAS Mamba and I measured the wind speed at 18 - 22 mph, but it was north westerly and Manmoel is definitely an easterly slope. At least it was flyable, it just meant that our models would be a bit slow when traversing from right to left.

We were joined by David who had brought a couple of models with him just as the wind began to change direction to a full blown easterly, and the lift was fantastic as Nick and I raced each other along the slope, he with his M60 and me with my Ballistik, I think I had a slight edge speed wise πŸ˜‰

 Nick walked back to his car to fetch his 3 metre B4 and I assembled my Valenta models L213 A. This would be the first time I've flown this since last autumn so I was a little nervous about it being chucked off the slope. I needn't have worried though as it flew away nicely, in fact it was absolutely rocking in that superb lift.

I made two passes to gauge the landing zone and then came in for an attempt at landing. The crow and spoilers slowed the speeding model down nicely, in fact so much so that with it still about 4 metres above the ground I closed crow and spoilers and landed sweetly without them. Nice 😌

We were joined by another couple of guys but shortly afterwards the wind just died off and we were reduced to flying our light foamie models and scratch around a bit for lift. It was strange how the wind and lift varied so much in the space of four hours.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Featured Post - foamie fun on Blaen Bran

Hi guys, check out the featured post on the left which goes back to 2016 and a fun, foamie model flying session we had on Blaen Bran, Cwmbran.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Fochriw gate - again

Three of us arranged to meet up at around midday ish at Fochriw for a flying session. As I was driving along the road towards Pontlottyn, with the steep slope on my left I could see a para glider in the air, which made me happy because that made me think that the access gate to the top of the hill was still open. My friend, (who lives locally), had contacted me the previous day to say that she had driven past and the gate was open. But upon my arrival the gate was firmly shut and locked with several vehicles parked outside the gate. So I checked the Slope Soaring in Wales group page on Facebook to see if there were any comments about this, and if not then I could warn the others about the closure. Nick had already beaten me to it, had seen the locked gate and driven down to the slope at Manmoel, near Ebbw Vale instead. So I messaged Phil to let him know and I headed off to Manmoel.

Nick was there as I walked the 200 metres from the car to the slope edge. The wind was blowing more easterly than the NE that had been forecast and around 10 mph, which was enough to fly a light foamie model, and that model for me was the Genesis chevron wing which I had built specifically for flying combat.

The air was smooth with no turbulence, which was nice as sometimes the air at Manmoel can be very turbulent and horrible to fly in, but not this day. It was a day for cruising back and forth along the slope as there wasn't enough wind to perform big aero's, but it was just nice to get on the sticks again.

Phil turned up with his youngest son Tom in tow and Phil launched his Spectre foamie wing and together we cruised the slope. I decided to syncronise my passes with Phil's, turning together at each end of the pass until we collided when I came up from behind and below. Phil's model went down and I managed to recover mine and continue flying, and there were no obvious control issues with my model, unlike Phil's who had a elevon control linkage break.

So that was that. Nick and I continued to fly for a little while until that chilly easterly wind got the better of Phil and I and we decided to head back to the warmth of our cars and head home.

Check out the video where I did manage to capture the collision.


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Fochriw Gate

Hi guys. Back in November I reported that a gate had been erected to block access to the flying slope at Fochriw. 

The closed gate last November
Well there had been a number of complaints about this gate from the Fochriw village community group, the South Wales Paragliding & Hanglider club, and I also put my two pennith in also. I have a friend who lives in the village and I had asked her to keep an eye on the gate to see if it was remaining closed or not and this morning she reported to me that it was wide open and it has been for some time. Which is really good news for us, particularly as we may want to fly here this weekend.

So people power has struck a victory in this instance, let's hope the gate remains to be open, particularly as the warmer spring weather is on its way.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Yaaaaay I finally went flying

Hey guys. Yes it has actually happened and I went flying, albeit only for an hour last Saturday. Up until now most weekends when I have been available to fly over the winter the weather has either been lousy or so little wind it wasn't worth the fuel cost to drive to the slopes.

The forecast for Saturday was a strong WSW, and as I only had a short window to fly due to having to be in Cardiff to watch the Scotland v Wales 6 Nations Championship rugby match, I decided to head to Meio. Once there, Clive was already there but the wind was westerly and so off the slope face. There is a small westerly facing part of the slope but this isn't particularly good and, although we had a strong wind of probably 25 mph, there was a lot of turbulence and our models were being buffeted about a lot.

Clive was flying his Genesis chevron wing, which he did well to fly as he found penetration against the wind a problem. I flew my Balistik chevron wing, which I had fully loaded with ballast, and although it did get buffeted about, it penetrated very well.

Hopefully now the weather should become a little kinder although we do appear to have storm after storm coming through from the Atlantic this week with high winds and lots of rain.

Just a date for your diaries but the PSSA are holding their annual event at the Bwlch on the weekend of the 11th & 12th May so please come along if you can make it.

Here is a short video of some of Saturdays flying. Enjoy.