Were weather vanes the first pre flight instrument? Here are some interesting facts about weather vanes.
For 2,000 plus years, weather vanes have been used worldwide to indicate the direction of the wind in order to predict impending foul weather or to forecast fair skies ahead. Weather vanes are a natural fit for pilots as we are always looking to the sky to judge the weather before we fly.
The word vane is actually derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “fane” meaning flag. One of the earliest recorded uses of a weather vane was during the Roman Empire around 50 B.C. A huge bronzed statue of Triton holding a rod in his out stretched hand rotated with the wind. The structure was over 26 feet high and had the 8 wind deities represented as well.
In the 9th century, the Pope required that all churches must show the symbol of the cock on its dome or steeple. This was to represent Peter’s betrayal of Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed in the morning. This is most likely where the weather vane picked up a sometimes commonly used name of weathercock.
Modern day weather vanes have moved well beyond the popular traditional rooster-shaped vane. Today’s weather vane is functional and also designed as a decorative focal point that is made in numerous shapes and sizes. It is now intended as more of an outdoor décor item that usually represents the owners other interests such as flying, boating, hunting etc. Installed on top of a cupola, gazebo, roof or placed in a garden setting, the weather vane is an inexpensive way to enhance one’s outdoor living space.
Find more about Weather Vanes on Wikipedia.