Use this page to learn how to use and contribute to the Locator and the Airframes Database. If you have a question that doesn't appear here with an answer, please ask Aerial Visuals! Aerial Visuals will respond directly to you and ensure the answers to your questions below.
Question: What is the Locator?
Answer: The Locator is a searchable database of aviation locations. A location may be a museum with aircraft in the collection or may be as simple as a single aircraft displayed in a park. The Locator and Airframes database
Question: What types of aircraft are in the databases?
Answer: For the purposes of the Locator, an aircraft will be considered to be a powered rotary or fixed wing vehicle (planes and helicopters). Gliders and rockets may be included in an "out-of-scope" category, but they will not be purposely researched and methodically added to the database. Out of service aircraft like airliners in public view will be traced in the locator. As for the Airframes Database the same general rules apply, but data imported focuses mainly on warbirds, propliners and classics.
Question: Does each location have an airframe on display?
Answer: Not necessarily. If the potential location does not have at least one airframe/aircraft in the collection or on display there will no active location for it, however it is possible that former aviation locations and locations with aviation themes may be included in an "out-of-scope" category. Also many locations are created in response to clues and tips and need your help to confirm the presence of aircraft in general or specfic airframes.
Question: I am not finding what I think I should be with the Locator. What is wrong?
Answer: The locator search engine defaults to only searching for locations with airframes which are accessible or in view from a public vantage point. Some locations are not accessible to the public. To include these in your search results you need to increase the scope (there is a selector on the search engine page). Also locations that have been closed or no longer have airframes on display are another scope catgory as are locations with aviation themes, but no airframes on display.
Question: How accurate are the Locator locations?
Answer: Most are very accurate, others no-so-much.
Location accuracy is indicated by these icons...
This means X marks the spot.
The location should be in view from here.
The location is expected to be close-by, maybe within a few city blocks.
Very low accuracy. There may be a location in the city but no certainty.
Question: The Locator is useful for finding where aircraft are displayed, but what purpose does the Airframes Database serve?
Answer: The Airframes Database helps ensure the Locator database stays current. Airframes often move from location to location, and therefore from time-to-time location dossiers need to be created and others need to be removed. The creation of an airframe dossier allows the movement of the airframe to be tracked and in doing that allows the Locator to be updated along with it.
Question: What is an Airframe Dossier?
Answer: Each airframe in the Airframes Database has an Airframe Dossier. These documents describe the known history details of the airframe which include, but are not limited to; dates, variants (models), significant events, owners, markings and photos.
Question: What is a Location Dossier?
Answer: Each physical location where an aircraft is displayed has a Location Dossier. This document describes where the displayed aircraft are located by political regions and by latitude and longitude coordinates. They also provide some of the aircraft details if the Airframe Dossiers don't yet exist.
Question: Are the Location and Airframe Dossiers connected?
Answer: Yes! Location and Airframe Dossiers are linked by web links. When reviewing a location dossier if it is linked to an airframe dossier you will find a web link in the site list below the map. Infact if one or more airframes are displayed at that location you will see multiple airframe dossier links, one for each airframe. Just click the link to navigate to the airframe dossier and review the known details of that airframe. In the airframe dossiers you will see the history of the airframe detailed, and if the airframe has been displayed at one or more locations you may see one or more links to location dossiers, and if you wish to see the details of these locations just follow the links.
Question: I know of a new location, can I create a new location dossier?
Answer: You most certainly can! If you know of a location which you can't find in the database you can use the Location Wizard.
Question: How do I look up airframe dossiers?
Answer: If you know of a location and want to see if there is an airframe dossier attached to it use the Locator Search Engine, Location Dossiers and Airframe Dossiers are linked as described above.
If you would like to search for a particular design firm, airframe model, military serial number, construction number, civil registration or markings then you can use the Airframes Database Search Engine. Just fill in the provided field and click the 'Search' button. If matching airframes are found a list of airframe dossiers links will be presented to you.
If you would prefer to browse for airframe dossiers then use the Airframes Database Index. Start by clicking on a design firm and drill down though the airframe family listing to get a list of airframes in the Airframes Database belonging to that airframe family.
Question: What are the "airframe families" you have mentioned here?
Answer: An airframe family is a group of designs by a design firm that are closely related in design, most being small incremental modifications of one another. For example the design firm North American designed a very famous fighter during WWII known as the P-51 Mustang. This type was not only built as the P-51, but also the A-36, F-5, P-51A, P-51D, Mustang Mk IV, etc. These types are all considered part of the same family. Even the Cavalier conversions and the Piper Enforcer are considered part of this family.
Question: What is the scope of airframe families in the database?
Answer: The airframe database is used for mainly warbirds and classics. Aerial Visuals defines a warbird as any ex-military aircraft. Classics are considered to be piston powered propliners and golden age type aircraft like some biplanes. Generally airliners, general aviation and gliders are avoided here. These guidelines are in place to keep the workload manageable. This project needs to remain a passion and not become a chore.
Question: I have seen photos in the airframe dossiers. Can I upload photos?
Answer: Yes and please do! You can not create a personalized photo album here like you can on Flicker or Photobucket, but you can upload a photo to airframe dossiers. To do so find the airframe dossier of interest first by following the instructions provided above. When you get to your airframe dossier you will find a link to the photo upload tool for that airframe dossier. Actually if you use the search engine or index to find the airframe dossiers you will see the upload link in the listings. To upload a photo just click on a link and follow the instructions. Please note, do not use your browsers back button to upload multiple photos as this can cause problems. Links and buttons will be provided to allow you to upload more than one photo.
Question: I have been reading the airframe dossiers and I have information to add to the documented histories. Can I edit or add to the airframe histories?
Answer: Yes and please do! As with the photo upload tool start by finding the airframe dossier with the history you can contribute to. You then click the link to the airframe dossier editor. You will have the dossier checked out so only you can edit it. Just follow the instructions provided in the editor. Provide dates and data sources where possible. Save and check-in the dossier when you are done. Your draft changes will be immdediately viewable to other users, and an editor will review and make permanent the changes as-soon-as possible.
Question: I have photos and a history of a particlar airframe, but it isn't in the database. Can I create an airframe dossier myself?
Answer: Yes and please do! Creating airframe dossiers is done using the 'Airframe Dossier Wizard' which may be accessed in two ways.
#1 Each location dossier includes a button to take you to the wizard. If you find a location dossier is missing a link to an airframe dossier just click the wizard button near the buttom of the page.
#2 You can also use the Airframes Database Index. To do so follow the link, then click on a design firm, then click on a family. You will be provided with a listing of the airframes known to the database. If you don't find a link to the airframe dossier you are looking for there then look for the link to the wizard at the bottom of the page.
To use the wizard just click on the 'Airframe Dossier Wizard' button and follow the instructions. Please note that like the photo upload tool, do not use your browsers back button as this can cause errors. One you have created your airframe dossier just follow the links to upload photos and edit the histories.
Question: Is there a place where I can view just the uploaded photos?
Answer: Yes, just visit the Airframe Gallery. You can then view the latest photos by default or customize your viewing of the photos by photographer and aircraft type. Check out the slide show feature while you are there.
Question: I just finished uploading a photo in the Gallery but it has been flagged that it is not viewable to the public yet. Why?
Answer: This is a feature that prevents the uploading of inappropriate material by spam bots and advertisers. Aerial Visuals apologises for the inconvenience, but this feature is necessary. The flag is temporary and will be removed as soon as an editor has an opportunity to review your uploaded photo.
Question: I have noticed there are many airframe dossiers which are based on civil registry information. Why? Could I not just get that information myself from other websites?
Answer: Yes, you could find that same information elsewhere. However, by importing and compiling civil registry information and other mass data imports from other sources, the airframe database can be automatically (minimal input from an Aerial Visuals editor) updated. The more airframe dossiers which are automatically created, the easier it is for Aerial Visuals contributors to upload photos and edit airframes therefore adding value to the documented histories which would not be available otherwise. These mass imports are also and excellant method to detect aircraft movements (ownership changes) and therefore prompt updates to the Locator which would otherwise take much more effort by editors and contributors.
Question: What civil registries are currently being imported and how often?
Answer: Currently the civil registries of Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand are downloaded and imported into the Airframes Database weekly. The new data of the previous week usually becomes available in the Airframes Database around the middle of the next week.
Question: Does Aerial Visuals intend to include data imports from other sources?
Answer: Yes! Aerial Visuals would like to also import civil registry information from other countries like the United Kingdom and South Africa. Other information sources on the web and in publications are being identified. All of these will take new web page development which will take some time and will be an on going process. Data accurancy will be a priority for these tasks so not to introduce errors. Another priority is for the importation of data to only take place where value is added (the merging data from different sources and the augmenting of that data) so to avoid plagiarism. The eventual goal is to produce a set of data mining tools for use by editors behind the scenes so eventually Aerial Visuals users have single point of contact for a comprehensive database of vintage aircraft and warbirds and their past and present locations.
Question: I have noticed that not all types I am interested in are imported. There are a number of gaps in the Database. What is going on here?
Answer: The importing of mass data like the civil registries depends on the linking of aircraft types in these data sources to aircraft families in the airframes database. Even once the two data type designations are linked they still need to be evaluated as data to be imported or data to be ignored. This can take some effort as it is a VERY MANUAL process (no automation here) and is carried out by the Aerial Visuals editor behind the scenes. This process is based on the assumption the airframe families have been created in the Airframe Database and a family variant list created as well. As you may have guessed this is a very manual process as well. Although not all historically significant types may be automatically imported into the Airframes Database, in time they will be. If you would like to volunteer to help develop family and variants lists please contact Aerial Visuals!
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