Picking the wind in flight

Looking for some info on converting to or from an Aussie Flight Crew License?
Ray McCooney
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Picking the wind in flight

Postby Ray McCooney » Fri Jan 5 2007, 03:03

Anyone got any great tips or techniques that they use to pick wind in flight, I am normally not bad but the other day I made a complete hash of it so back to the drawing board for me.
What did they go back to before drawing boards?
Cheers
Ray
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Heli
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Postby Heli » Fri Jan 5 2007, 03:28

Ray,

Look for:

Cloud shadows over the ground, will give you wind direction and speed for the altitude of the clouds
Paddocks of long grass, wind gusts will ripple the crop and show direction
Over (or near) water, wind lanes will show direction, and a degree of speed
Flags
Smoke from chimneys
Vapour/condensation from cooling towers at power stations

Of course, you can always use the GPS and input data to give wind details, it's there to be used :D
nana yabiznus
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Postby nana yabiznus » Fri Jan 5 2007, 03:33

G'day Ray,

I was taught to look for windsocks, ripples or swell on any water mass, any sway in trees and branches, any smoke that may be around, flags, and if all else fails, put your finger in your mouth and then hold it out in front of you and see which side of your finger gets the coldest. :wink:

Nana 8)
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Postby Twin Head » Fri Jan 5 2007, 08:02

Keep listening watch on the closest ctaf / atis /awis as well as looking out the window

best of luck

TH
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Postby dantheman » Fri Jan 5 2007, 09:46

As far as the wind goes as suggested above long grass, smoke, trees are all good a few more that I use are Moored boats at sea/lakes always point into wind also birds never ever take off or land down wind ( they do it every day and Know more about flying than us) you can also do a constant radius turn and kep an eye on your airspeed indicator for an increase in any given direction.
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Postby skypig » Fri Jan 5 2007, 09:58

A combination of (some already mentioned, some often ignored) :idea: :-

AFOR

ATIS (nearby)

Local runway in use

What was it at take off? (look at compass/DI)

Obviously Smoke/dust (steam in Rotorua)

Windsocks (including washing on lines)

Wind on water – Lines only appear at about 15Kts+, but the smooth/shiny patch in the lee of the “shore” is much more sensitive and therefore useful.

Air speed (ASI) v Ground speed (GPS) – Head/tail component (Short final:– Air speed- none v Ground speed- some = ensure very low decent rate)

Drift – check balance first.

Birds – soaring on the upwind side of obstacles. Usually land/TO into the wind (but can turn very low)

Remember, the smoke from your wreckage blowing forward makes an embarrassing photo :oops: and as someone (Top End Torque for one) once said:- “Everything except pi$$ing should be done into the wind”. :!:

Sky “If you can smell me I must be upwind” Pig
8) 8)
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Postby WRONGWAY » Sat Jan 6 2007, 02:42

Strange! Every time i flew with Phugoyd, the wind came from his direction. :lol:
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Postby Train Crash » Sat Jan 6 2007, 20:39

Hello Gentlemen,

Don't forget the trusty old windmill, but remember that if the tall is folded back against the fan you must split the difference between the tail and the fan to get the wind.

I did an approach about eight years ago on a very hot day to a HLS that was 500 metres from the sea and was approaching directly towards the windsock, which was indicating that I was into wind, However the wind sock was about 150 metres from the HLS.
It all felt wrong and at the last minute I turned it around and landed in the other direction.

The wind was coming from different directions in that short distance.

If it feels wrong, it usually is wrong.

Cheers

T.C.
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Postby helothere » Sat Jan 6 2007, 22:57

I was overflying Wollongong Airport a few years ago in my little fixed wing to determine the wind direction. There was a windsock midfield and one about 3/4 of the way along RWY 08, they were both pointing at each other! I had to use the cloud shadows to get the picture.

More often than not I use the GS as read from the GPS and compare to the AS to get a feel for the wind speed and direction. We had a huge days flying down in Western Victoria the other day, I reckon the wind did 4 360's during the day, every departure and approach was from a different direction (I did around 40 flights). The windsock is difficult to see from a distance (blends in to the carpark) so I mostly used GS/AS and cloud shadows. It is a good idea to use a bit of caution when using the cloud shadows, the wind at cloud level can be very different from that on the ground, generally though it gives you a pretty good idea.

8)
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby rock.ape » Sun Apr 27 2008, 06:30

If you have difficulty determining wind for landing try a constant low speed orbit over the intended landing site and note the different power requirements during the orbit.
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Elan » Sun Apr 27 2008, 08:06

Sometimes when you're landing off-airport it's easier to determine wind direction from two straight-line passes than from an orbit. Pick a line that goes past your landing spot and fly it at a constant airspeed (maybe 30 or 40 knots), in trim. Turn around and fly the same straight line at the same constant airspeed, also in trim. The direction of crab will tell you which side your crosswind component is from. The difference in groundspeed between the two passes will tell you where your headwind/tailwind is. If your LZ is on a ridge or shoulder you can fly the passes at eye-level (as long as you have safe drop-off), which is a good chance to check out the landing surface and nail down the elevation at the same time.
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Capt Hollywood
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Capt Hollywood » Sun Apr 27 2008, 09:00

If you have difficulty determining wind for landing try a constant low speed orbit over the intended landing site and note the different power requirements during the orbit.


Wouldn't you be better off maintaining a constant AIRSPEED throughout a circuit around your landing area and noting the change in GROUNDSPEED, obviously the leg with the slowest groundspeed would be the most into wind leg and you shouldn't have to make any real power adjustments with a constant AIRSPEED. I'd be careful doing slow orbits with a constant GROUNDSPEED as you might get a surprise when you turn downwind and need more power than you've got!
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby NZHelo » Sun Apr 27 2008, 10:10

grass and trees are not a good idea as they sway
if in an environment where there isnt the obvious (wind sock, smoke etc) try a constant angle of bank turn, have a starting point and carry out a 360 degree turn at constant power, speed, and most importantly angle of bank....the drift from your start point will tell you of wind direction........fail proof if constant angle is held
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Vortex Bling » Sun Apr 27 2008, 13:51

I don't bother picking the wind in flight as it's usually a 30kt headwind... :-(
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby rock.ape » Sun Apr 27 2008, 16:02

Capt Hollywood wrote:
If you have difficulty determining wind for landing try a constant low speed orbit over the intended landing site and note the different power requirements during the orbit.


Wouldn't you be better off maintaining a constant AIRSPEED throughout a circuit around your landing area and noting the change in GROUNDSPEED, obviously the leg with the slowest groundspeed would be the most into wind leg and you shouldn't have to make any real power adjustments with a constant AIRSPEED. I'd be careful doing slow orbits with a constant GROUNDSPEED as you might get a surprise when you turn downwind and need more power than you've got!


Its worked ok for me from SL to 18 000' peaks without GPS

There are different techniques suggested here try them and use the one that suits you
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Mike Becker » Sun Apr 27 2008, 20:32

All above is good, I also do the following on short finals
Check that you have a positive IAS and look at your airspeed groundspeed relationship. This is the best check for the wind when you are not sure. Zip on the ASI and still moving across the ground - definite tail wind, go around
Make sure your ROD is under control, this means the collective is coming up and you are taking the helicopter to the pad. If the collective is going down and you are still trying to slow down, heading for trouble - go around
You have plenty of power in hand. For example if max power is say 25"MAP or 100% TQ and you are on short finals and are already pulling 24" or 90% TQ then, not enough to hold the hover - go around.
If at any time the tail feels loose, probably got the wind up your bum - go around.
Usually stronger winds are easier to fly in (10 plus knots) as they are easier to pick. Light, variable or changeable winds are the ones to watch out for :wink:
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Oogle » Mon Apr 28 2008, 06:19

All good ideas so far.

Another one which is appropriate for the type of aircraft that you fly... If flying a hingeless rotor system (BO105 or BK117), they will tell you fairly early when you are losing translational lift. Now, if this happens early in the approach phase, you most likely have a tail wind so go around and take another way in.

This requires you to be familiar with the flying qualities of the particular machine that you fly and I do not suggest using this method to gauge where the wind is coming from but it is purely another little trick which may or may not help in case the tried and trusted methods mentioned above have been forgotten.

Been a long time since I flew a R22 and I can't remember how it performs.
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hand in pants
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby hand in pants » Mon Apr 28 2008, 06:20

If all else fails, get a job in a machine that has great tail rotor authority and bugger the wind..........................
Hand in Pants, I'm thinking, my god, that IS huge!!!!!!!!
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Scud » Mon Apr 28 2008, 09:59

All good ideas. At the end of the day, it seems almost every situation is different...certainly true if away from the airfield and windsocks. The last two days at our airport had all windsocks pointing different directions and was swinging through almost 180 degrees. I tend to like the difference between GS and AIS, supported by all the others. After having got in a valley SW of Armidale, albeit very carefully yesterday, pulling out was like being in a washing machine...with all the valleys, ridges and mountain tops, the wind was every which way! Glad not to be landing on the mountain tops then.

For what it's worth Ray, I think you have as good an idea as anyone about wind direction mate. Sounds like you just got caught out. Been there myself, as you well know.

Scud
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Re: Picking the wind in flight

Postby Elan » Wed Apr 30 2008, 13:18

One thing to note about GS vs IAS is that it can be misleading at altitude due to the increase in TAS... Just something to remember and compensate for accordingly.

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