Paramotor Tip: Determining Light Wind Direction Without a Windsock

Sometimes, especially on early mornings, the wind at ground level is too weak to move even the telltale of a windsock. Even on these days it is advantageous to launch against the wind because it’s still subtracting from the speed you must run to inflate the wing, and it insures a gradual climbout angle with respect to the terrain and surrounding collision hazards.

Walk-around technique:

Excuse the awful art, but this is the ground track you’ll be walking. It’s not earth-shattering stuff.
  1. Hold your arms out like you’re a bird; expose some skin, because you’re trying to feel wind/temperature differences.
  2. Walk in a wide circle (20 feet), arms outstretched, at a moderate pace (~3 mph).
  3. Note which way you’re facing when you feel the most wind or or most cold on your face and hands. That is the direction the wind is coming from. Try walking a little faster in each direction to confirm that one direction clearly feels like it’s resisting you more. That’s the direction you will launch.

This technique works even when the windsock is still, and dropping leaves, grass, tissue etc. doesn’t indicate a wind direction. Your nervous system is more sensitive.

Genie in a bottle:

If you don’t want to look silly walking around in a circle, some people use a product called a “wind checker” that indicates wind direction using a mist of fine powder. It works by squirting fine powder into the air, which then drifts in the slightest breeze. It’s sold as a hunting supply. Here’s a link to one such product on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2yHypOT.

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1 Comment

  1. When we started to fly in the early 90’s, we would carry small (quarter size) packets of flour and drop them on a potential LZ to check the winds. Sometimes it worked.


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