Tech Corner: Changing Socks

Socks don’t last forever. Over time they become threadbare, your big toe sticks out, and they need to be replaced. Which is a pretty simple task. But replacing the sock’s aviator cousin, the wind sock, is not as easy as touching your toes.

A wind sock at the Manameneng airstrip in Lesotho. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

Across Lesotho, windsocks hang on poles high above remote airstrips. They play the vital role of providing MAF pilots information about wind speed and direction. This is especially important in Lesotho because of the frequent strong winds that sweep across the country’s treeless mountains. These winds can keep MAF pilots from taking off or landing safely. Wind socks in Lesotho (and at MAF strips around the world) are constantly battered by the high winds and frequently need to be replaced—a task that can be challenging, to say the least!

MAF staff are doing something that will make this task a little easier. Instead of climbing up the poles to reach the windsocks, they are having the windsocks come to them!

Essentially, what they have done is welded a hinge at the bottom of each pole, separated the base of the pole from the ground, and, voila! The pole is able to be easily folded, so that the windsock can be replaced and then raised back into position. This will save the MAF team valuable time and ensure that this bright and important sock is in place so pilots can make the right decision when it comes to wind speed and whether it’s safe to take off or land. To see this process in action, check out the short video of this device being installed at Kuebunyane below (filmed by Moody Aviation student and recent MAF intern, Joshua Cowles).

While windsocks need to be changed only occasionally, we would strongly recommend changing your own socks more often.


Read the full edition of FlightWatch 2017, Vol. 2:

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