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Newsletter 4
31 December 2020
Photo of C-GGQT by Pierre Langlois
A year has gone by that most people probably won't be remembering as a particularly good one. The corona virus is still making our lives difficult as we pass into 2021, but at least there is some hope that the worst restrictions on travel may be eased by the summer in the northern hemisphere, and maybe enthusiasts could even meet again at an airshow or two in the second half of the year. Anyway, please take care, and best wishes for 2021 from the entire AirHistory.net crew.
About screeners and screening
Photo of G-HRLI by Trevor Thornton
We are very happy to announce that two new photo screeners joined our crew in early December. They are Pierre Langlois and Trevor Thornton. Trevor is from Britain like the warbird Hurricane in his own photo on the right. Pierre is from Canada as his Citabria picture at the top of the page would suggest, and, apart from his qualities, boosts the team's diversity as he represents Canada and the French-speaking world. Bienvenue à bord, Trevor and Pierre! 

The new screeners enable us to deal with the uploading volumes - we are averaging around 300 photos added daily at the moment, and over 300,000 are now in the database. As the site continues to grow, we continue to be on the lookout for potential screeners and database editors as well. If you are interested, please do let us know via joincrew@airhistory.net.

Cutting and cropping

As a fairly new site we are still developing our standards. You certainly don't have to be a crack photographer to upload photos to the site, but we did add something about composition in our upload guidlines and it is about photos that don't show an aircraft in its entirety. If you missed a small bit of a tailplane when taking a shot, that is not a problem. But generally photos should look well-composed and balanced. Of course pictures can often look good with part of an aircraft's wing left out, but cutting through important features such as logos, windows, fins and engines may lead to photos getting returned to the photographer.
 

Returned photos

'Returned photos' is not an euphemism - in most cases, these shots can be fixed with some minor adjustments and we are still very much interested in hosting them. Therefore if you haven't, we would like to encourage you to take a look at the your personal Returned Photos queue, which you can access via the Account tab on the website or via /www.airhistory.net/my-returns. If you need help in making the necessary adjustments, or have any editing questions regarding this, the screening team is very much willing to help out.
Photo of 85-1485 by Dan Stijovich

The commons

It should be said that our standards do get stricter if the subject is common, and this is a point that we would like to raise with you again. AirHistory is not a gallery for bottomless numbers of shots of always the same airframes, still in the same paint schemes as a hundred pictures ago. Dan Stijovich's USAF F-16 at Nellis, above, may look very ordinary but in individual airframe terms, this is the only photo of this aircraft that we have available. That makes it much more significant to have in the database than a picture of some special aircraft that we already have dozens of photos of, especially if it is always in the same paint scheme and markings. 

It seems that our contributors are generally very understanding and even supportive of this view, and we see that many uploaders carefully consider this when selecting photos from their files. But others seem to follow a different approach - they simply leave the matter to the screeners and don't factor this in when choosing pictures to upload. Could we humbly ask you to think about this? It would probably help if you would check the frequency of a registration and markings in the database first, before starting the editing work on your photo. Thanks!

Please refer to the website's 'Which Images to Upload' page (in the top menu, go to Upload > Which Images to Upload), section 'Limits on number of photos of the same aircraft or airport', for all the details. An exception can always be made if a shot is just a stunner or very special for some reason. If you do upload a common photo, please motivate your decision in the Comment to Crew field on the upload page.
Months in words, please
Unfortunately, the world is not in sync about writing dates, and countless mistakes arise because 1-2-2021 falls in January for some, but in February for many other people in the world. On our website we try to avoid any possible confusion simply by writing months as words, not in numbers, and it would be great if you could join in in your much appreciated photo comments. We do change this when we come across it, but it would be better and save us time if you could remember writing January or Jan, et cetera.
Boeing designations
As the 737 Max is returning to the sky, it may be worth summarizing the changes Boeing Commerical Airplanes have made to their aircraft designations in recent years. Enthusiasts were accustomed to the customer codes allocated by Boeing, making a 707-300B manufactured  for Lufthansa a 707-330B, for example, and a 757-200 built for Turkmenistan Airlines a 757-22K.
Photo of Z-WKS by Alastair T. Gardiner
As Alastair Gardiner's photo of a 707-330B illustrates, the system was fairly useless after the planes left Seattle, as the codes would often no longer reflect the actual owner or configuration.
Boeing dropped the customer code in 2016 and thus a young 737-700, 737-800 or 737-900 - starting with line number 6082 - is just that, and 777-300s from line number 1422 are also just that, without a customer specific designation inserted.

The cut-off point is line number 1534 for the 747-800, now called the 747-8 as Boeing did away with the zeros too for its current civilian models. The 777-200-based freighter is just the 777F as of line number 1422. The new generation ‘777X’ comes as the 777-8 and 777-9; and the 737 Max as the 737-7, 737-8, 737-9 and -10. If you think the 737 Max name is rather silly, it is interesting to know that it is a marketing name only and does not appear in certification papers; however, we have no other name for the fourth generation of 737s.
Where to catch your plane
It is an essential feature of aircraft that they are able to move around. Yet at AirHistory, we are paying quite a lot of attention to photo locations. Airports, airfields, heliports and seaplane quays, whether current or closed a century ago, are all given coordinates that open in Google Maps. Even non-flying preserved planes in off-airport places all get their own locations, making it much easier for enthusiasts to find and catch these old birds. 

So far, non-flying preserved aircraft at airports didn't enjoy their own coordinates in our database, however. The airports have the red marker put at the centre of the runway(s), and at a large field it may not be straightforward to find your vintage plane, such as the T-6G Texan pictured by Bart Hoekstra guarding the gate of the military quarters of Gran Canaria Airport, also known as Gando. (By the way, did you know that you can search for old airfield names in our database, even though only the official present name shows with the photos?)
Photo of
Location of
As a special service to those users hunting such wrecks and relics for themselves, additional location links called Aircraft Map are now starting to appear with photos of non-flying planes preserved at airports. This is just a minor feature intended to pinpoint the exact location of such aircraft, often gate guards, at airports. It is not meant for aircraft in museums, as aviation museums and other aircraft collections should shortly receive their own coordinates in our database.

You can help our editors filling in Aircraft Map locations for preserved non-flying aircraft. Please keep in mind the purpose of the feature: to show where an aircraft is within an airport and whether it is still there, and help people with planning their trips and getting to the locations - it is hardly useful to show a location within a hangar or the spot where a stored aircraft was parked for couple of weeks.

The procedure is quite simple: 
  • Look up the decimal coordinates for the aircraft in Google Maps or Earth. Please remember, the feature applies to permanently non-moving aircraft presently visible in the satelite imagery. And it is not for photos that come with a Collection (museum) tag.
  • Press a photo's Submit Correction button and just send us the decimal Google Maps coordinates, accurate enough that our editors can't miss the plane. 

And if you're uploading a new shot of such an aircraft, it would be much appreciated if you could include the location data in the Comment to Crew at the bottom of the upload page. Well, we hope that this feature will save you some time when on the road or - still more likely now, unfortunately -  planning a trip, or just paying an armchair visit to the guardians of history at airport locations!
Unknown soldiers
Some contributors are asking us if we would like them to upload photos of aircraft with incomplete information - in particular, of airframes with unknown registrations and identities. The answer is actually yes and no.

AirHistory.net is, again, first and foremost a database, not a gallery. Accurate data is vital for it to fulfil its function for the benefit of researchers, historians and enthusiasts. This means things such as aircraft types, operators, and locations should be identified correctly as this allows people looking for a specific aircraft type, an airline or maybe an airport to find what they looking for. But most searches are for an individual aircraft and that means that registrations and serials are particularly important.
Photo of D-AOHU from AirHistory.net Photo Archive
For historic photos there is latitude, however. Photos taken before there were aircraft spotters were rarely taken with the intention of recording registrations. And for some rare types and operators, there may just be very few photos around. The value of revealing new types and liveries clearly outweighs a lack of identifying data.

A little research can sometimes do wonders, by the way. The photo of the Ju 52 on the right came without any information, and no registration can be read off the photo. However, a quick online search quickly established that the Bayer company from Leverkusen only had one Ju 52. What's more, with the background looking like old Schiphol, the Dutch newspaper archive, Delpher, produced not only the date of the visit, but the same photo as hard evidence and the registration D-AOHU confirmed by a helpful reporter! So, if you were unable to identify some of the aircraft in your photos years ago, you might be surprised what a fresh search could come up with today. Spotter logs of old airshows, for instance, can often be found online.
Photo of 50 red by Fred Willemsen
There are a few aircraft that just don't have a registration or serial. They are often prototypes which are allowed to fly whithout regular markings. Their uniqueness makes it often quite easy to identify the airframes. However, some air forces do not paint serial or alternatively, construction numbers on the outside of their aircraft, or do so in such small print that identification from any distance is ruled out. Prominent culprits are the Russian and Soviet forces. The above MiG-25, photographed by Fred Willemsen, has actually been identified by its construction number, but in many cases a tactical code like '50 red' is all that is known. We better accept that or end up with few photos of Soviet or German World War II military aircraft, for example.

However, for most aircraft, a serial or registration is essential if the photo is to be of value in our database. The reg will unlock a construction number, the exact aircraft version, and for viewers interested in the aircraft’s fate, a way to trace that. Please consult the above when you're asking yourself whether to upload an unidentified plane. It really depends on the circumstances whether the shot is in the spirit of the website and database.
 
Photos by Alistair T Gardener, Bart Hoekstra, Pierre LangloisDan Stijovich,
Trevor Thornton, Fred Willemsen and
AirHistory.net Photo Archive.