Wind direction
Answered By AOPA
While practicing S turns, turns around a point or for an emergency landing, we need to quickly determine the direction and strength of the wind. In case there are no visual clues like smoke or trees, what is the best way to determine the direction of the wind and its strength? Thanks.
3 Replies
AOPA Staff Answer
Hi Gnani,

Ron is correct, being prepared and checking the local weather or onboard sources is your best/easiest source of wind information (outside of visual indicators). For ground references maneuvers, with no other source of wind indication available, you could always do a wind drift circle.

A wind drift circle is a constant bank, 360 degree turn, done over a fixed point or reference (think turns around a point, without varying bank or trying to hold a ground track). After completion of your 360 turn you will be able to tell if you've been pushed by the wind, and if so, what direction its coming from and relative strength. Here's an illustration from the Airplane Flying Handbook (Chapter 6), it shows what happens when the wind pushes you in a constant bank 360 (illustration A,B, and C) :

In a pinch a wind drift circle will help you determine the wind direction for ground reference maneuvers. It can also help confirm whether or not the winds you looked up before your flight are still true. I hope this helps.
(Time on a short leg - Time in the other direction, same leg)
(Time on the leg one direction + time on the leg opposite dir.)

......multipled by TAS give you the true windspeed along that leg.

Do it again an 90 degress to the flight path and you have true wind + direction.
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Forecast surface winds from preflight weather briefing and reported surface winds from nearby ASOS/AWOS/ATIS or Tower/FSS.  If you have ADS-B-in, you can also use that to access reported surface winds at nearby airports, pretty quickly, too.