Registration highlighting based on recorded plane sightings

One purpose of keeping a record of plane sightings is knowing which planes have been seen already, and which are still needed. With that comes the need to be able to link a sighting to a plane, be it on registration or on construction number. The Spottingmode log database does that now automatically. Every sighting is automatically linked to the respective plane and construction number (if known and entered). These links also makes it possible to always have the sighting information linked to it. Wherever a plane is displayed on the Spottingmode website, the sighting info can be used to display it in a highlighted manner to indicate the plane has been seen before.

Planes for which a sighting is linked on registration will be highlighted in bright yellow while planes for which only a sighting on construction number is linked will be highlighted in light yellow.

Registration highlighting is personal, no user will be able to see highlights for other users. It works for users that are logged in and have sightings in the Spottingmode plane log database. This is available for all membership levels.

How links are created between sighting and planes

Registration highlighting starts with being able to correctly linking a sighting to a plane. The Spottingmode system does that based on a number of fields. To fully explain this it first needs to be clear how planes are recorded in the database.

Database structure for planes

Planes are recorded at two levels. The primary data stored is the construction number, together with the main type. Since under normal circumstances a plane only has one construction number (which will not change over the lifetime of the plane) and per main type there will not be two identical construction numbers, the combination of construction number and main type is unique. This makes that whenever the same combination of construction number and main type is found, it will be the same plane.

Unfortunately, there are always exceptions:

On top of the construction number comes the actual registration of the plane. Since most planes will at least once change owner and registration, more than one plane can be linked to a construction number. The Spottingmode database will store each plane with the registration, country, service, main type and the link to the construction number record. All mentioned information is needed to positively identify a plane correctly, as there are examples of double registrations for each situation where one of the mentioned fields is missing.

Data needed for a link

With the above information it becomes clear that a number of fields must be entered with a sighting to correctly link each sighting to plane and construction number. The fields are:

The country and service fields must be selected from the pre defined list of options. Main type must be selected through the picklist with predefined options. It is possible to enter a custom value, but in that case the database cannot recognize it anymore as the same and the link between sighting and plane record will be broken. Registration and construction number must be given as closely as possible to the values in the database. There is some freedom to use personal preferences (for example to use dots or not in Spanish military serials, or hyphens in Dutch military serials), see also the help/sorting page for more info on how the database will interpret registrations.

Links can only be made correctly if the displayed plane and a sighting have the same information. A plane with a construction number in the database will not be linked to a sighting where no construction number is given, and vice versa!

Why a plane may not be highlighted, even if there is a sighting

Sightings will always be linked to planes based on the information explained above. If a plane anywhere on the site is not highlighted, even though a sighting should have been recorded, it is most likely because of one of the following reasons:

Published planes and fleets

One of the main uses of the serial highlighting is to highlight all seen planes within a total fleet. This makes it easy to see at a glance if any planes within that fleet are still needed. Already over 3500 fleets are published on the Spottingmode sight, with over half a million planes in those fleets. And this list is growing almost on a daily basis.

In order to check if your sightings are correctly linked to the published planes and fleets, an extra visual tool has been developed. Within the views of your sightings, it is possible to add an extra column that will mark green if the sighting is linked to a published plane. This will make it immediately clear which sightings may contain incorrect information, or have missing information.


Green cell indicating correctly linked plane

The first column in the above example is the "Fleet linked" column and shows a green cell for the first record, but nothing for the second. This means the first record has all the correct plane information and is linked to a published plane. The second record is missing the correct construction number and can therefore not be linked to the correct plane. In all overviews on the website (for example fleet lists and Wrecks & Relics), the first sighting will result in the plane being highlighted, but the second will not.

Changes in plane records

The plane and construction number records in the database are maintained by the Spottingmode administrators. Therefore changes can and will be made to the data on a regular basis. As user entered data will never be changed by administrators, changes in plane records will not always be reflected in recorded sightings. This may also mean that planes displayed anywhere on the website may at one point no longer link to sightings where the link was made previously.