Interesting facts about industrial windsocks • Piggotts Flags and Branding
Interesting facts about industrial windsocks
10 January 2017

Windsocks nowadays include a wide range of safety products that are manufactured from various fabrics and materials depending on their applications at national airports, sporting events or industrial sites.

What is the purpose of industrial and aviation windsocks?

Industrial windsocks, sometimes called “wind cones” or “air cones” are a kind of kite tube manufactured from synthetic cloth, nylon or rubber in the shape of an ice cream cone that is open at one end by a stiff metal ring.

Wind is blown into the wider end of the tube and then directed toward the narrow end, pointing the windsock in the same direction in which the wind is blowing. In case of a high-speed wind, a windsock will fly horizontally, its position helping to determine the strength of the breeze. When the narrower end of the windsock points to the north, it indicates that the breeze is coming from the south, and vice versa.

The main purpose of safety aviation windsocks installed on airfields, international airports, helipads and heliports is to help detect the direction in which the wind is blowing and roughly estimate its force. Because of the latter issue of force, three-dimensional windsocks have been established as a significantly more reliable solution than standard flags for airport safety, printed in vibrant colours for high visibility.

Industrial windsocks used for aviation are usually made with lightweight and flexible nylon, and the colour of the windsock can easily be customised. Windsocks used in the industry can make the best of advertising opportunities available on the premises of the company or its operation sites – promotional windsocks can be custom printed, regardless of the material they are made of, to include a company or brand logo. Custom windsocks printed with a brand logo are a popular choice to be exhibited in front of the company’s main building.

Promotional windsocks made with lightweight synthetic nylon can come in a virtually unlimited range of colours, making them a perfect choice for decorations used during outdoor street festivals, for private patios or garden birthday parties. Functions of promotional windsocks are not limited to decorative purposes only. A promotional windsock can also be used to get a basic estimation of the wind direction and calculating its velocity.

Industrial windsocks in contrasting colours are commonly used on golf courses, helping players to determine the wind direction before taking a more precise shot. Large windsocks for sporting events are often present during golf tournaments or racing championships.

Are windsocks calibrated?

Yes, most of the safety windsocks will be calibrated to a knot that reads either km per hour or m per hour, which aims to make wind speed estimation possible. Micro safety windsocks can be installed to detect wind speeds as small as 3 mph – these will be most commonly used on oil rigs and chemical plants to monitor daily operation on sites where even the smallest air contamination over time poses a serious threat to the safety and health of crew on site and neighbouring communities.

Most commonly used safety windsocks are designed to orient themselves in wind speeds between 3 and 15 knots. A fully extended industrial windsock flying horizontally will indicate the wind velocity of 15 knots or faster. Therefore, if you see a windsock flying halfway there (second half of the cone swinging sorrowfully), the wind speed can be estimated at half of that speed, meaning around 7 knots.

As you can see now, this a quick and easy way for aviation pilots using smaller domestic airfields to make a rough estimation of the weather conditions before take-off or landing. Local airfields can be not always controlled, a safety windsock being the only indication of where the wind is blowing from.

What material are windsocks made of?

Fabric sleeved windsocks are made usually from highly resistant and lightweight nylon that gives virtually unlimited possibilities of custom printing. Windsocks made with polyester are lightweight enough to be used on airfields. Micro windsocks with the purpose of tracking wind speed lower than 3 knots are also commonly made with fabrics such as nylon and polyester, making them easy to align in a given direction even in case of a light breeze.

When you buy safety windsocks online with Piggotts, the wind tracking product you acquire is made of heavy duty synthetic rubber in vibrant orange as a default colour. UV, chemicals and water resistant material makes these products a cost effective and reliable wind tracking solution as a safety measure on any commercial site.

We are able to provide completely customised windsocks for industrial use on drilling rigs, chemical plants and other operation sites with extreme weather conditions, regardless of the colour and materials you require. Find out more about our windsock solutions here.

Why windsocks have stripes?

A standard windsock comes in white and orange stripes that are actually helpful to help estimate the strength of the breeze. According to British windsock specifications that come under the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), windsock products compliant with these regulations are able to indicate wind speeds from 3 to 15 knots (fully erected windsock).

A read from the anemometer (wind meter) located nearby the windsock will confirm whether the breeze velocity is actually 3 knots (some windsocks may be constantly held open by the mounting circle frame). For most purposes, each stripe will mean you have to add another 3 knots when estimating the wind speed, the last stripe being 15 knots or stronger.

To read more about windsock specifications in the UK, visit CAA website:

Where are windsocks used?

  • Outside runways on international airports and national airfields, helipads and heliports
  • Petrochemical industry: on oil rigs and chemical plants where gaseous leaks are a threat to the safety of all staff and nearby properties in case of an emergency fire
  • Factories and manufacturing plants where emissions are exhausted
  • Chemical facilities where even the smallest air pollution poses a serious threat
  • Seaports and offshore drilling rigs
  • Mountain roads and highways with high speed winds
  • Other windy locations
  • Company premises – promotional windsocks used for advertising
  • Sporting events – windsocks used for decoration

What are windsocks used for?

Safety windsocks installed on chemical plants can help to detect which direction and how quickly the hazardous gas leaks will travel, helping to avoid life threating air pollution in the case of an emergency.

Industrial windsocks are also commonly used by meteorologists across the globe in order to help forecast the weather conditions accurately.

Why do airports have windsocks?

Safety windsocks also include aviation windsocks. One of the initial applications of safety windsocks included windsocks being installed on landing strips and helipads worldwide. For a safe take-off and landing, aviation pilots must know the direction in which the wind is gauging, as well as get an idea of the wind speed, with the wind ideally blowing towards the front cockpit of the aircraft. This is to help provide them with greater control over the plane when landing, more lift during take-off and reducing the distance during both actions.

On the contrary to high visibility flags, which – in theory – could be used for this application as well, aviation windsocks are a more reliable solution as they can withstand stronger winds, do not wrap around the pole they are mounted on, nor can they become accidentally detached easily even in high speed winds. Synthetic material windsocks are indifferent to extremely low and high temperatures, therefore can be successfully installed on oil rigs and chemical plants in locations like the Middle East for example.

During night time or a fog, aviation windsocks used at airports runways can be lit up either by an external source of light or by one floodlight that is installed inside the windsock itself. Furthermore, to ensure the visibility of an airport windsock, safety windsocks used for aviation come in a highly visible bright orange.

You need to remember that aviation windsocks are only accurate within a certain distance – therefore most airport landing stripes will feature multiple windsocks mounted on poles at both ends of the runway.

How to install windsocks?

Safety windsocks that aim to provide accurate information on breeze direction and velocity, should be mounted in a way that allows enough space and freedom for the wind tracking solution to fully erect in high speed winds.

The location that the safety windsocks are mounted should be clearly visible to anyone who needs to base their decisions on the wind tracking device.

Buy windsocks online with Piggotts

Piggotts are one of the UK’s most renowned windsock suppliers for industrial, aviation and safety windsocks to businesses across the globe.

Browse our website to buy windsock online or contact our friendly sales team to enquire about personalised orders, custom windsocks with your brand’s logo prints, different windsock sizes or special requirements regarding the windsock material because it is for use in a specific industry.

There is no minimum or maximum order volume – we can deliver reliable windsock solutions to companies worldwide. Custom windsock orders placed with Piggotts will comply with any industry requirements for the product.

Piggotts Flags & Branding, Unit 3, Taber Place, Crittall Rd, Witham Essex CM8 3YP
Reg Office: The Maltings, Chelmsford Road, Norton Heath, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 0LQ
Reg Number: 10582644 VAT number: GB 260 4258 22
Arabic Arabic English English