Newsletter 2
12 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Photo of C-FCVX
Dear reader,

It's twelve days into the new year - not too late for the whole crew to wish you a happy and healthy twenty-twenty, hopefully with wonderful aviation vistas experienced live or on our pages. And while we cannot resist illustrating this time of year with a winterish picture, we know of course that it is summer for quite a few of you - our valued contributors and users in a still young, but already truly global community.
Photo of B-20D7

Some numbers

We are still a small bunch with about 150 active photo uploaders - but together we hit the 200,000 photos milestone just before New Year's Eve. We have not hit 1,000 photos added in one day yet but came close with 965 on 15 December. Importantly, these photos represent a very healthy number of different airframes and registrations. Few airframes have more than five pictures in the database with the same registration and colour scheme, and that is how we like to see it. Diversity is our great aim and we are happy to see that a full third of the photos - some 68,000 - are from the analog age, from before 2000. That said, photos of new aircraft are extremely welcome at AirHistory - today will already be history tomorrow, after all.
Different airlines, same name
Indeed, nothing ever stays the same - but new airlines aren't always original when choosing a name. For instance, Capital Airlines is the name of a defunct American company, but also the name of a defunct British airline, and a Chinese low-cost carrier that is still operating. Unlike other aviation websites, AirHistory provides a distinction between such operators by listing the country of operation in cases where there might be confusion. Thus, when searching for photos of Capital Airlines you can choose between 'Capital Airlines [United States]', 'Capital Airlines [United Kingdom]' or 'Capital Airlines [China]'.
Photo of G-AOYN
Photo of B-8981
In cases in which a name has been re-used within a single country, lists the operator name with the years of operation. Thus, a user searching for photos of Air Belgium will be directed to choose between photos of the defunct airline that operated between 1980 and 2000, and the contemporary airline that began operations in 2018. 
Photo of OO-ILI
Photo of OO-ABA

The new Combined Data Search

To find what you're after in a bottomless bag of aeroplane photos, you can quickly enter a registration in the input box in the top right corner of the website, or use one or more fields under 'Search' on the left. 'Advanced Search' gives many additional options, such as searching within a period of your choice.
Photo of 95-1082
When you find something you fancy - say, the above photo of a Japanese C-130 Hercules - you can of course continue browsing by clicking on the aircraft type link to get all C-130 photos, or the operator link to get all photos of Japanese Air Force aircraft. But if you want to see only photos of Japanese C-130s, you no longer need to go back to the website top menu - just click on the 'Combined Data Search' tab below the photo data, tick the operator and type boxes, and hit that 'Show Photos' button! Other combinations of checkboxes ticked will give you, for example, all photos of JASDF aircraft in Pakistan (not too many yet) or all our C-130 shots taken by Stephan de Bruijn (over 40 as we speak). It's a nifty tool we think you'll quickly come to appreciate - please give it a try!
Facebook and Twitter
These days a website needs to be present on the social media to get its share of attention. So last August, we started an Facebook channel, and in November we added a Twitter channel. A few pictures per day are published there, picked without regard to the photographers' names. Extended captions add interest and some historical perspective for the social media readers. Keeping an eye on events such as deliveries and crashes, our social media editor also tries to select the most newsworthy pictures.
Photo of M23-24
Increasingly, photos are being shared by news sites, such as this one in a report on the grounding of the S-61 Nuri in Malaysia on Scramble Facebook News. Each time a picture is clicked on in FB or Twitter, the viewer is connected to its full page.

Every start on social media is slow, but meanwhile we managed to gain quite some attention. We now log more than 4,000 daily followers on Facebook, and the posted pictures have a reach of over 35,000 viewers a day! Twitter has yet to catch up, but the published pictures reach an average of some 200 views.

Reference stuff

We are mainly an aviation photo site, but we also aspire to be a bit of a portal for the right reference stuff. In our Reference section, there are links to some of the world's best number crunching sites under the Useful Research Websites header. We also host some aircraft type production lists ourselves, including a C-17 production list with construction numbers that are actually correct, and the unique Soviet Transports Data Files of which an updated edition has just been published.

We would like to ask our uploaders to make use of these resources to improve the quality of the aircraft data - especially when you're uploading a 'new' airframe to check the aircraft version and the construction number that is so important as an unique identity. Using Soviet Transports it was possible, for example, to find out the identity, but also the story of the Mi-4 helicopter in the Antarctic in the photo below.
Photo of CCCP-N87
In this case, by the way, it was necessary to know that the 'H' in its registration is really a Cyrillic 'N', making it CCCP-N87. The Soviet ICAO prefix CCCP is officially Latin alphabet though, so CCCP in a reg should not transcribed to 'SSSR', even though that is how it reads in Russian eyes!
Photo of F-BEJI
Research-only photos
Indeed, is not simply an aviation photo gallery. Many other websites already fulfil that role. Instead, is a historic image archive that attempts to document aviation history. This means that we do not only show high-quality images, but also lesser images that we think are historically significant and of interest to aviation researchers, Such photos may show obstructions and other flaws, and typically are not pleasing to the eye. Most users will have little interest in them and this is why we exclude them from the search results by default. But if you're researching something and want these low-quality photos included in your search results, you can check the 'Include low-quality photos (Research-only) in your search results' checkbox on our search pages.

Are you a registered member and do you always want these research-only photos to be included in your searches? Go to Account in the main menu of the website and under Account Settings, tick the 'Always include low-quality Research-Only Photos in all search results and photo caption links' box. Then enter your password in the last field and click the Save Changes button. This setting will then be saved in your user profile and be applied to all your future searches by default, as well as to all links in the photo captions.

If you've shot such photos that you don't want in your main portfolio, but are still of historic interest, you can always upload them with a 'Research-only please' remark for the screeners.
Photo of NC36793

Golden oldies

We love to dig up interesting old photos from online archives around the world. More and more institutions, cities and states are joining the trend of sharing their archives online, often without having a clue about the sometimes very rare aircraft shown in their photos. True gems are out there, frequently archived under the most unlikely, misspelt keywords, or impossible dates. Patching up these old photos can be time-consuming, and it often takes a Bellingcat-like urge to get the data straight. Yet, unlocking the best old stuff for the AirHistory Photo Archive can be a true journey of discovery on a rainy day!
We'll be back!
Well, it has taken us some time to roll out the second AirHistory Newsletter, and it certainly isn't our intention to spam your maibox every week or month from now on. Still, it is our intention to get to you a little more often when we feel there are enough mildly interesting developments to share with you, our most involved group of users. Until then, take care and happy landings!
Photo thumbs-up!
Photos by Stephan de Bruijn, John Collier, Peter de Jong, Toni Marimón, Paul Seymour, David Unsworth and Peter Vercruijsse, and from our AirHistory Photo Archive.