Black Mountains Gliding Club

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Wave flying

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Wave

With mountains all around us, wave can occur in almost any wind direction. The current site record is held by Tony Burton and stands at 32,000ft amsl so forget all those long treks north of the border and come and try Talgarth Wave! Like soaring the Beacons, it is beyond the scope of these briefing notes to teach you wave flying ... if you have not flown in wave before, you are strongly recommended to do some background reading before arrival. A few points to remember however:
  • Airway N864 runs over the top of the site at FL 125 with access to FL145 nearby so ensure that you are fully familiar where you can go and where you cannot. There is plenty of free airspace up to FL195 around us. Check the maps in the clubhouse if you are not sure.
  • Remember that if you are sitting high and comfortable in wave, sunset will occur on the ground much earlier and you may be forced to land in the dark. Don't get caught out! It can take a surprisingly long time to descend from high levels ... the quickest way is to move to the "down" of the wave and open the brakes.
  • Clear the ears frequently on the descent by chewing or you will experience a sharp pain, temporary deafness or worse. Never go wave flying with a head cold.
  • If the wave is strong, you will experience tremendous rates of climb ... and sink.
  • Always be ready to descend if the wave slot shows signs of closing. If you do get caught out, in westerly wave, head downwind. The ground is lower, the air drier and the fields larger in England. Do not attempt a GPS descent through cloud without prior practice in clear air.
  • When landing in an easterly when there is wave about, the approach can be very rough indeed but it usually smooths out near the ground.

As mentioned earlier, wave can and does occur in almost any wind direction at Talgarth. The usual mountain waves at Talgarth are:

East to north east

In these winds, the primary wave can occur directly over the clubhouse and diamond heights are possible clear of the airway. The launch will be rough so be warned but it is well worth it to sit looking down at the Main Ridge above the clubhouse with the vario hard on the stops. Often, we will launch you on to Mynydd Troedd (1,997amsl) to ridge soar until you can pick up the wave in the valley. Again, it can be rough, but pressing out into the valley usually gets you into the rotor which is the way up into the wave. We have seen this wave last for a full couple of days and enjoyed super flying when the rest of the UK was grounded.

North round to west

Being the prevailing wind, this is the most often encountered wave. It does not usually go much above 10 - 12,000ft but is easy to use and works over very large areas so cross countries are easy. Normally the wave is over the Wye Valley and can be reached from the Main Ridge. Towards the end of the day, it is often possible to sit at 5 or 6,000ft in front of the wave cloud looking down at the River Wye in the sunlit valley below. The views are out of this world and it is easy just to cruise north to Shobdon at min sink before a gentle return to the club.

South round to south west

This is the wind direction for the big climbs ... the current club altitude record of 32,000ft is held by Tony Burton who made the climb over Madley in a strong south westerly. With the wind in the south, the Brecon Beacons can produce spectacular wave with the primary forming above Llangorse Lake .... once you're settled in it, you can head west still in the primary for many miles. With a south westerly, you can still soar the primary over Llangorse Lake but then, if conditions are right and you're feeling good, drop right back towards the north east past the club, past Hay Bluff where the Black Mountains get in phase with the Beacons to form the really big wave over Madley Airfield (easily spotted thanks to the huge BT satellite dishes) in the Golden Valley. This is well clear of the airway and is the Talgarth Diamond Mine. So have fun!

Updated: 16 February 2009 RR