detection of wind speed aloft

From:         Andy Tompson <>
Organization: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NCD
Date:         15 Jun 95 01:14:01 
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I was recently on a cross country flight and was listening to the cockpit/ATC
communications, as I like to do (on UAL). There was some discussion about
finding good altitudes where the headwinds were low. I got to thinking how
headwinds can be measured from the plane. Now, I guess there are pitot tubes on
the plane that can be used to the wind speed relative to the plane. Do they
just subtract groundspeed to get the headwinds? If so, how do they measure the
groundspeed? Is there some type of correlation as a function of density,
temperature, and throttle setting (specific to the plane)? Is there some type
of differential measurement made with data from different parts of the airframe
to measure headwinds? Maybe this is all relatively simple, so maybe someone can
clear the air, as it were. Thanks in advance.
Andrew F. B. Tompson                         (510) 422-6348
Earth Sciences Division, L-206               (510) 422-3118 FAX
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA 94551