Spottingmode database structure

The Spottingmode website is built upon one big database system which contains all information relating to planes, airfields, wrecks & relics as well as the user sightings and picture info. This page will explain the overall structure of the database, how all different elements are interconnected and integrated and how you can make the best use of it.

Plane information

All data is centered around the full list of planes. Planes are stored at two different levels. First of all a record exists for each known built plane. This list is therefore by construction number, where at least a construction number is known of course. Each plane is identified by two fields only, the main type and the construction number. As each record needs to be unique, special solutions are implemented to distinguish two planes of the same type, with the same construction number. For example the Consolidated B-24 has several production batches all starting at 1. In order to distinguish those cases, an extra suffix to the construction number is added in the database as follows: 1{FO} or 1{CF4}. The suffix is not part of the construction number, but without it both planes would have construction number 1 and it would be impossible to know which plane would be the correct one.

Secondly the planes are listed by registration. As most planes will change operator and/or registration at least once, there will be multiple registration records per known construction number. Planes listed by registration are always identified by four different fields: registration, main type, country and service and linked to a construction number record. Only one plane record will be created per each unique set of above fields. So even if a plane is registered with the same registration at different points in time (which is often the case when planes are used on a summer lease for example), there will be only one record for it.

In order to make sure your sightings and pictures are linked to the correct plane and construction number records in the main plane list, it is necessary to have the same information for the construction number, registration, main type, country and service fields.

Use the "look up" link in insert forms to select the right plane based on registration. This way you will always have the correct information added and the links will be made correctly.


The Spottingmode database contains about 40.000 airfields worlwide. From small dirt strips in the jungle to the largest airports. The airfields contain information about location, names and codes. Multiple names can be used, including secondary names as well as previous names.

Besides the airfield information itself, also spotting hotels are linked to the airfields where known and of interest. Only those hotels that are directly at the airfield, or hotels that provide actual spotting opportunities are shown.

When inserting sightings and linking plane information to pictures, you can use all the known airfield names and codes as the location of the sighting. This also includes former names and names of airfields that have been closed already. A drop down list will appear with matches for the name given. The matches are both on name and airfield code (ICAO, IATA, etc).

Use the airfield code when inserting, as matches on airfield code will always appear at the top of the list, making it easier to select the right airfield.

By using the defined names, your sighting will be linked to that particular airfield and in the future you will be able to see your sightings with that airfield, or even on the map (this functionality is currently under development). However, it is not in anyway mandatory to use defined names, the location field is completely free format and you can use any name you wish.

Wrecks & relics

The wrecks & relics section contains information about locations worldwide with out of service planes. Preserved, stored, dumped or in any other way no longer flying. Linked to locations are the planes that can be found there (where known of course) and the link is made directly on the main planes list. This also allows a link to be made to your sightings, so all planes for which you have sightings in the database will be highlighted in yellow. Sightings will not be selected on location, so it does not matter where the sighting was recorded. Also sightings of the plane still operational will be used and will highlight the plane on any wrecks & relics overview.

Plane sightings

The plane sightings list is the main list of user generated, personal data. This list contains all your sightings and is linked directly to the planes list. In fact, every sighting that is created, is created for a plane in the planes list and if the plane does not exist yet it is created. Because the sightings are linked directly to the planes list, registration highlighting is possible at all pages with overviews of planes (fleet lists, wrecks & relics, etc).

As mentioned above, to be able to link your sightings to the correct planes, some information must be added in the correct format, but other than that, all information can be added in anyway you prefer. The Spottingmode system has no restrictions or formatting rules for registrations, types, units and almost all other fields.

find more info on how to enter your sightings

Flickr pictures

Spottingmode makes it possible to link your sightings to your pictures on Flickr. In order to do that basic information about your pictures on Flickr will be stored in the Spottingmode database, along with the sighting it is linked to. You can link more than one sighting to a picture, in case multiple planes are on the picture.

Note that Spottingmode does not store your picture in the database. Only picture information needed to create the link to the picture on Flickr is stored. As soon as you remove your picture from Flickr, or set its privacy to private, it will no longer show up on the Spottingmode website.

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