View Full Version : Letís talk AWOS/ASOS, or the lack of it.....

03-21-2018, 08:25 AM
My small local airport has a UNICOM (Universal Communications) frequency as well as a CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency). Both are the same frequency number.
What it doesnít have is any sort of weather advisory frequency such as AWOS (Automated Weather Observing System) or ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System).
It does have one windsock.
Flying Ultralight vehicles (airplanes) some choose not to use any sort of radio systems. Some also choose not to use any sort of electronic device such as tablets or phones with sectionals & frequencies loaded to them.
Flying Ultralight vehicles also allow pilots to maneuver into small airports & airfields, often using very limited &/or basic systems.
Without a weather frequency to observe the wind direction & speed, what are some ways that you utilize in order to land your vehicle/airplane safely.

03-21-2018, 09:16 AM
can use a mainstream app like weather underground. Find a reporting station close to where you are, there are 1000's of them so it shouldn't be too hard.

03-21-2018, 09:56 AM
Without a weather frequency to observe the wind direction & speed, what are some ways that you utilize in order to land your vehicle/airplane safely.
Mark 1 eyeball always worked for me, when I flew NORDO for about eight years.

Often some sort of smoke source visible, somewhere around. Can get an idea of strength and direction. Local conditions could vary slightly, though terrain may affect some airports worse (e.g., valleys tunneling the wind).

Overfly the field ~500 feet higher than pattern altitude prior to entering the pattern. Rare is the airport that DOESN'T have a wind sock (mine has three). Note, also, any aircraft that are in the runup areas...good indication of which is the active runway. Get a feel for the aircraft already in the pattern, too.

Other indicators include flags, sailboats, and cows (rump into the wind in the winter, nose into the wind in the summer).

If all else fails, get on the CTAF and ask for a wind report.

Ron Wanttaja

03-21-2018, 05:25 PM
Ssome hang glider pilots carry their own wind indicator. A weight with a streamer dropped from 500 feet will lay out on the ground showing the direction of the wind.

Several design variations exist. A fancy one has a small plastic container with pop off lid (old 35 MM film canister worked great). Screw the lid to the airframe and toss out the canister so as not to go through the prop.) The canister has 10 to 20 feet of colored crape paper rolled inside with the outer end taped to the inside of the canister. The center of the roll can be attached to the lid or have a short tail that can be gripped when the canister is tossed.

For best results use two colors of crape paper, I suggest one end fastened to lid as yellow and the other half blue fastened to the canister. The streamer will lay out with the blue into the wind.

Land from yellow to blue and retrieve the streamer for reuse. This is more reliable than a wind sock.

03-22-2018, 01:30 AM
Fly across the runway with a heading precisely perpendicular to it and notice if you drift left or right.

champ driver
03-23-2018, 04:47 AM
There are lots of ways to determine the wind direction and approximate speed.
Lakes and rivers, trees and farm fields, smoke and flags. if you're flying something as slow as an ultralight then you should be able to see the wind blowing you one way or another by holding a heading.
In the pattern you can tell the winds from the way it drifts you in a direction on each leg, and surely on final you can see what direction it blows you off course.
I don't know if you have any radio or not, but sometimes nearby airports can give you at least an approximate speed and direction from their reports.

03-23-2018, 09:44 AM
There are lots of ways to determine the wind direction and approximate speed.

That little orange thing on the pole has worked for over a century. We have two at our airport that has neither AWOS or UNICOM.

To get an AWOS installed, you have to have both money and to convince the FAA/NWS that your airport has sufficient traffic to justify its installation.
There are a few commercial units like Dave Wartofsky's SuperAwos or whatever he's calling it now that you can purchase but it's not cheap either.

Bob Dingley
03-23-2018, 10:22 AM
Back in my helo days, I was visiting out of the way places that had no wind indicators at all. Some were at sea. A handy tool that I used was a copy of the beaufort scale. Do a search for it and read it. Its been around for a couple of centuries and dependable. When you do your search, you will get a couple of pages. Its self explanatory.


Bob Dingley
03-23-2018, 10:28 AM
I also used a Garmin 530 hooked up to an air data computer and it provided the wind direction and speed. But that is cheating.