Newsletter 3
28 May 2020
Photo of 9H-EAL by Howard J Curtis
Corona crisis
An epidemic has engulfed the globe - directly affecting everyday life worldwide more than anything has since the Second World War. Even if you’re not in lockdown or by now emerging from it, you’re no doubt worried about the health of your loved ones and yourself, and concerned about the grave economic consequences of this crisis - not least in aviation. We wish you health and strength to overcome this difficult time, and hope that AirHistory may be of some comfort and inspiration if you're spending more time at home than you would like.
Let’s keep AirHistory special!
In this Newsletter, we’d like to talk about what kind of photos we like to add to the photo database – not so much about what we will accept, but what we really like to add. We promised friendly photo screening and we think that if, as a photographer, you are paying some attention to your uploads, you may hardly have noticed that screening is in place at all. But we hope very much that you share AirHistory’s aims. We are not a gallery for all your aviation photos. Rather, we want to document aviation history, and more concretely, the rather ambitious goal is ‘to hold photos of every aircraft ever built, in all its colour schemes and markings...’ But what we do not want is as many shots as possible of always the same aircraft!

Diversity is key and, seeing the wide range of aeroplanes that is typically on the front page, we are happy with how things are going. But, as the site is maturing, we think it is good to talk this subject through and we hope that you are willing, while selecting shots to upload, to keep an eye out for the following aspects, which can all help to make a photo more relevant to the purpose of our database.
  • The photo shows a new aircraft type to the database, a new operator, or a new aircraft type for this operator. 
  • It is a new airframe or new registration to the database. 
  • It is a new paint scheme, markings have changed, or something conspicuous has been added. We are not talking here about just some small sticker.

As a rough indication, we think that a good target number of shots for a combination of airframe, registration and markings or paint scheme combination, to be reached over time, is about ten, or double that amount for older, pre-digital images. But this is not set in stone, and within such a combination, there are several more aspects to consider which can help to add diversity, interest, and historic value to an upload:
  • The photo shows an improved view of the aircraft's markings, titles or logos compared to what we already have.
  • Photographic quality is notably better than what we already have. 
  • It was taken on a considerably different date. For example, your photo was taken two years before or after the other photos we have of the same registration. 
  • It shows a different status – on the ground versus flying, for example. If we only have a static photo of the aircraft, a shot of the same plane in action does add something to the database. But this is also about different phases in an aircraft’s career – for instance, pre-delivery, operational, stored, or dumped. 
  • It shows an unusual situation or location, or illustrates a special flight or mission. For example, a photo of aircraft grounded by the corona crisis. A shot of an airliner at one of its usual destinations does not add much interest, even if we don’t happen to have a shot of the aircraft at that airport yet. 
  • You have an informative comment to add. Yes, please, take an extra minute and let the viewers know what makes your photo interesting from a historical point of view. In particular, please add information about the aircraft that is not readily available elsewhere – a list of ex-registrations is not always helpful.
Photo of G-AZWT by Mick Bajcar
Thankfully, the great majority of uploads easily meet these criteria, and with a little bit of understanding of the above, this will hopefully remain the case in the future. There are some popular subjects that are already somewhat over-represented, however. As an example, we already host some 17 photos in the database of the warbird Westland Lysander G-AZWT, 15 of which show it in its black scheme with the squadron code ‘MA-B’. Now we would love to add a wartime photo of this Lizzie, V9367 – and of course, if you’d upload an absolutely cracking shot of G-AZWT, we’ll have a hard time saying no to it. But generally, more photos of G-AZWT in its black outfit won’t add much to the database.

At this point, about the only airframes already a bit too common in the database are a bunch of popular warbirds on the airshow circuit, plus a few modern prototypes and aircraft wearing special paint schemes. But we definitely want to keep this from becoming an issue, and in the interest of diversity, we have implemented a new feature on the photo upload page that serves an indication of a photo’s commonness. This has been built into the existing Auto-suggest tool.
Photo of UR-09307 by Toni Marimón
Let's take as an example this Anotonov An-22 Antei, UR-09307. If you're uploading a photo of this registration, a text will now appear informing you that there are 19 shots of this admittedly magnificent aircraft already in the database - all showing the same paint scheme and markings as far as the system can tell. But of course, your photo might show the aircraft in another paint scheme, or there might be another fine reason to add the photo, as discussed above.If you wish to continue, please make sure to add a comment to the crew. The upload wil be flagged as common, and the photo will only be accepted if is sufficiently different from what we have. 

Another indication of commonness is given in the photographers’ Queued Photos section. If a registration or serial is marked [ New ], it is new to the database - this is what we like to see as often as possible!
If the photo is not new, there will be two numbers displayed after the registration or serial, like: [ 6 / 1 ]. The first number here is the number of photos of the registration and aircraft type combination already in the database. The second number is the number of photos already in the database taken by yourself. If this is not zero, a red background acts as a warning that you may possibly have already uploaded this of a very similar picture, although it may of course be a totally different shot. Note that you can click on the numbers to view the photos they refer to!
The message COMMON? may appear in red after the numbers. This happens if during upload you received a warning from the auto-suggest system that we already have many photos of this aircraft in the database. There may be good reasons for you to upload such a photo anyway (as explained above), but if not, it might very well not be accepted because it is too common.
Site update
A recent update will be most obvious to our mobile users – we think that it now looks much better on all mobile devices, especially on a smartphone. Another change is that there now is an easy-to-use Submit Correction button below each large photo to inform our database editors of errors and additions. And, we have two new and two renamed database fields, all to further improve the accessibility of the photos.
Photo of FAC-1106 by Leslie Snelleman
Photo of ZK-123 by Mick Bajcar
First, the Registration Painted and Serial Painted fields have been renamed Alternate Registration and Alternate Serial. This is not a major change – it just serves to better accommodate some aircraft which carry dual civil and military identities, such as those operated Ecuador’s military airline, Satena, or new undelivered aircraft carrying dual identities, like the Indian British Aerospace Hawk in the above right picture.

The main use of these fields is still to indicate a reg or serial painted on in another format. For example, United States civil NC, NL, NR and NX registrations officially omit the second letter as of 1949, and should be entered as e.g. N5427 in the Registration field and NC5427 in the Alternate Registration field. US Air Force and Army serials should be entered in the Serial field in full, e.g. 69-0009, 80-0788, or 53-1351, and in the Alternate Serial field as presented on the aircraft, e.g. 90009, AF80-788, or 0-31351.
Photo of G-LEAU by Mick Bajcar

Promo Titles

Perhaps you have a memory of having seen an aircraft years ago that was a flying billboard for the Volkswagen Tiguan, but you didn’t log the registration and you can’t remember the airline. now has a unique aid to help users identify aircraft that carry distinctive promotional titles or liveries. This database field will be used for prominent titles carried by aircraft - from 'logojets' down to balloons - for advertising purposes, or to promote things such as football clubs or major events.

To qualify for the new field, the promotional paint scheme and advertising titles should comprise a significant part of the visual identity of the aircraft. In other words, please use the promotional field when an aircraft has a special advertising paint scheme, or unusually large promotional logos and artwork, but not when there is just a small sticker applied to the regular livery of an airline. Also, please do not list any promotional titles or slogans in which operators are advertising their own services. The promotional field is for listing companies, events, organizations, or sponsorships that are separate from the regular operation of the aircraft.

Travel and tour companies are often promoted with prominent titles by airlines, and in our hobby, we have come to think of some of these companies almost as operators. But from now on please treat prominent Sunweb Vakanties titles on a Transavia aircraft as promotional titles, to distinguish from actual airlines like Thomas Cook.
Photo of TC-FLF by Kas van Zonneveld
Photo of G-BVKD by Toni Marimón
Please list any promotional titles with the full or standard name of the promoted entity, such as ‘Manchester City Football Club’ ‘2020 Tokyo Olympic Games’ or ‘Volkswagen Tiguan’, even if a different version of the name appears on the aircraft. This can help users if they search for a particular scheme or promotion in the future.
We hope that you’ll enjoy the new feature. As this is a new concept, please bear with us a little bit if we see it fit to amend or remove any entries from the promotional field, especially during its early days!

Ships and rigs

Another new database field is entitled Ship / Rig, and is designed to list the names of ships and offshore platforms that appear with aircraft in a photo, and are associated with the aircraft. So, to qualify for the use of the field, at least part of the ship or rig should be visible in the photo, and the aircraft should be based on it or visiting it.

When you upload a photo, the new field will appear after you have entered the geographical location. As in other fields, the system is helpful: if you just type ‘car’ or ‘vin, the carrier USS Carl Vinson CVN72 will show up as an option! Many ships and rigs have already been entered in the database. When a ship or offshore platform is not yet listed, please try to list it in the formats described below.
Photo of 163414 by Stefan de Bruijn
  • Military vessel names will always start with the international abbreviation for the specific navy, such as USS for a United States Navy ship, HMS for a British one, or ARA for an Argentinian one. Following the name of the vessel the so-called pennant number will be listed, without a space between the letters and numbers. Examples: USS Carl Vinson CVN70, ARA Patagonia B1, HMS Richmond F239. Note that navies tend to re-use names: the name USS Independence has been given to six different ships over time, including two aircraft carriers and one with a helicopter platform. On the other hand, pennant numbers are sometimes changed for the same ship. We are adding helpful comments in the menus so that it should be easy to pick the correct name and pennant number. 
  • Civil vessels will be listed by their name only, without any prefixes like SS or MV.
  • Offshore platforms will be listed with their name, for example, Ensco 94. Some rigs come with their own ICAO location indicator – please list it between brackets following the name, for example Ekofisk H (ENEK) or D12-A (EHDT).

In the Advanced Search menu, the Ship / Rig field is present in the Location section. Here, too, just type ‘foc’ to find the French carrier FS Foch R99, for instance. Selecting that name and next clicking on ‘Show Photos’ will then produce all the photos in the database showing that ship. Of course, clicking on the yellow ‘Ship / Rig’ link in the caption of a photo will also do the trick!

Queue Questions

We received a couple of questions from photographers about the coloured buttons on their Queued Photos page, especially about the purpose of the Hide button. Well, the Hide button hides a photo from the screening queue, so that it will not be accepted while you’re still working on it. Maybe you want to do a final check of the photo data, or maybe you’re not quite happy with your comment – you can take your time making changes using the Edit button while the upload has been put on Hide.
You can also use the Hide function while making final improvements on the photo itself. Maybe you feel that your shot could use more contrast as you see it in the queue, or you spot a blemish or a bad border. The Replace Image button allows you to replace a photo in the queue with an improved version, without having to go all through the upload page again. The Hide button toggles into an Unhide button which enables you to return the photo to the screening queue once you’re ready.

The Remove button obviously removes a photo from your queue. For a limited time, removed photos will still be available in your Removed Photos queue that you can access from your Account menu on the main page, and there you’ll find a Restore button to return the photo to your upload queue if you wish. The Removed Photos queue is cleared every few weeks or months.

For an explanation of the two numbers in the Registration / Serial field of each photo in your upload queue, please refer to the Let’s keep AirHistory special item earlier in this Newsletter. 
Photo of A7-BFD by Peter de Jong
What's in a name

If you’re a frequent visitor of AirHistory, you may have noticed that some of the links on our pages respond in somewhat different ways, depending on whether you click on them on a thumbnail page, or on a large photo page. Let’s take as an example the accompanying photo of a Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 777. If you click on the Operator /Titles link on the large photo page, you will open the thumbnail page showing the photos we have of Qatar Airways Cargo aircraft – about 40. But if you then click on the Operator / Titles link with one of the thumbnail photos, you get the thumbnail page for everything Qatar Airways – 500 photos! This is intentional and knowing this, you can pre-select the ‘smaller entity’ or the ‘larger entity’ by opening a large photo first, or not. 
Photo of 10735 by Mick Bajcar
The same principle applies to two other database fields: Event, and Museum / Collection. This means that clicking on the Event link on a large photo taken at the 1979 International Air Tattoo, such as Mick's shot of a wonderful CP-107 Argus here, will produce the thumbnail page of IAT 1979, while clicking on an identical link with a thumbnail photo will produce the photos of all editions of the event, including the IAT and RIAT shows at Fairford. Name changes of museum and collections are being tackled in a similar way. The Flying Heritage Collection at Everett - Paine Field is now also into tanks and known as FHCAM. A click on either name with a thumbnail photo will produce all photos from this collection, while a click on the same Museum / Collection on a large photo page will only give photos take either before or after the name change.

It should be said that this is very much work in progress - many airline divisions, events and museum names still need to be grouped together, meaning that the functionality described here won’t always work just yet. But please bear with us, and this is really quite handy when you get the hang of it! 
Photo of SP-AOG by Peter de Jong
Join the crew, become an Editor!

As all the above will probably make clear, the AirHistory crew is quite committed to make this site more than a large heap of airplane pictures. The historical framework, the database function, is very important, and requires a lot of work behind the scenes. We need more database editors to get the job done, and if all the talk about database fields didn't put you off, you may be the kind of person we are looking for!

As a database editor, it’s important that you’re able to work meticulously. Obviously, you love aviation. Amazing knowledge is not required – in fact, the opportunity to learn more about aviation, and to do something useful while browsing the photos, is the main perk we can offer – but it would be very nice if you have specific expertise about aviation in a certain area or era, enhancing the knowledge of the team. It’s difficult to say how much of your time you should be devoting, but typically the editors will do some basic correction work on most days they’re online, whereas special tasks or projects you might be willing to take on your shoulders could take anything from hours to months.

If you're an experienced aviation photographer and are interested in becoming a Screener, please feel free to contact us too. Applications and inquiries for both positions can be sent to We are looking forward to hearing from you! 
Photos by Mick Bajcar, Howard J Curtis, Stephan de Bruijn, Peter de Jong, Toni Marimón,
Leslie Snelleman and Kas van Zonneveld,