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4 Answers

How can you tell if there are winds aloft when you are flying?

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General Aviation, Student Pilot

I have been reading about ground reference maneuvers such as flying a box or a rectangle with wind.  My question is this:

If you are flying VFR at 1000 feet AGL, how do you know that you are experiencing a crosswind at altitude?  Can you only know by visually looking out the window?

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4 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Jul 25, 2012

    There is the looking outside the window method, radio navigation method and the mathematical method to figure out what the winds are doing at altitude.  
    The outside the window method involved picking a point on the horizon and flying to it.  If that point moves, change headings till that point no longer moves.  If when you have stopped that point from moving in the windscreen and it is not directly in front of you then there is a crosswind that you are correcting for.
    The radio navigation method involves tracking directly TO or FROM the navaid.  If, after bracketing, the heading is not the same as the course or radial you are flying there is a crosswind you are dealing with.
    The mathematical method is where you know that the heading from point A to point B is a certain value.  If when you are flying aloft, that heading does not keep you on course there is a wind. 

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  2. Brent on Jul 25, 2012

    At 1000AGL, you could also try to find smoke from a ground source (chimney, industrial smoke stack, etc) and check which way it’s blowing.
    If you have a GPS unit providing ground speed, you could slowly turn to maximize or minimize the reading of your groundspeed to find the heading that is directly downwind or upwind, respectively. Using this technique, keep in mind that the GPS is directly measuring your position only, and has to take the first derivitive of several position readings before to get speed, so be prepared for it to lag behind a bit.

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  3. Matej Dostal on Jul 26, 2012

    Or just take a look at the forecasted winds for that area to get a general idea.

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  4. khoda bakhsh on Jul 28, 2012

    AT 1000 feet AGL the best method to determine the wind speed and direction is to look at the ground aids such as smokes from chimneys or other industial areas.if you are near populated area u can see coloured flags etc or windsocks if near some helipads…

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