Anyone who has ever visited an airfield has no doubt seen a brightly coloured, striped windsock dancing in the wind. However, the pattern on the sock is not just for show; it has its meaning to pilots and ground staff, and it is much simpler than you might initially think!
At the Airfield
Windsocks, most commonly found at airfields, and are used by airport staff to determine wind speed and direction. The wind enters the wide end and flows down the tapered tube and out of the narrower end of the sock. To determine which direction the wind is blowing from, we need only look at the direction the sock is pointing. The wide end will indicate the wind’s origin, and the tip will show its direction.
A windsock is typically split into five sections alternating between a bright fluorescent orange and white. This not only makes it eye-catching but also makes it visible to everyone, even in low visibility. Each section can be roughly estimated as 3 knots of wind speed, or about 3.5 mph. Therefore, for each section of the windsock that blows upright, one can determine the current wind speed. For example, if 3 of the five sections are erect and the other two are dangling, that indicates that the wind velocity is approximately 9 knots.
Most windsocks measure speeds of 15 knots or stronger, but there are smaller versions available made for smaller less windy airfields. Some even have multiple socks to confirm speeds in different locations around the runway.
Wherever there is a windsock, located closeby there will often be an anemometer; a piece of equipment that specifically measures wind speed. Since the windsock can only give a generalised idea of how fast the wind is travelling, it is important to also check readings from equipment such as the anemometers for a more precise reading.
Nevertheless, windsocks are still a necessary piece of airfield equipment. They are especially important on small airfields where pilots may find it a little more challenging to ascertain wind speed and direction.
Windsocks are found in many other locations including; chemical plants where there is a risk of gas leakage or alongside road networks where high winds can cause potential difficulties to drivers, and on golf courses, especially during professional matches. Experienced golfers know to check windsocks for an idea of wind speed and direction, helping them to judge a shot and to take aim more accurately.
Do you need a striped windsock for your business? Visit Windsocks Direct for a range of windsocks in various sizes. We also offer a variety of customisation options allowing you to create your ideal windsock, whatever it may be.