Minor refresh (10/5/2011)
I have been busy with other things for almost a year now, and have neglected updates. I apologize to the people that have emailed me- updating the data has taken much longer than I anticipated.
Today I updated the appearance of several pages, with a goal of getting you to the information that you are looking for faster. Many pages have had more links added, and I have enlarged the map on the main page. Tables on list pages now allow for sorting and searching; I hope this makes the site much more usable. Loading time may be significantly reduced on many pages, but I'm still working on that.
Another project: MineralResourceMap.com (11/6/2010)For a while, I have been looking at putting information from other Goverment databases on a map. I found the USGS (US Geological Survey) MRDS (Mineral Resource Data System) database online. It has information not just mines, but processing facilities, historical mines and prospects, and other things from all around the world. The database has information on over 300,000 sites around the world. I've put it on a map, similar to PlaneCrashMap here, and have used what I've learned on this site to make it more easy to use and quicker, despite the larger data source used. MineralResourceMap.com I'm hoping to update PlaneCrashMap.com with some of the features of the new site, including a map that loads data when you scroll, instead of having to navigate to a different states' map. I don't have an ETA for these changes, but would expect them at the beginning of next year.
A few more states (AL, GA, SC, TX)(6/25/10)I've noticed the traffic dropping off this week, which is usally alleviated by a site update (I think google lowers your rankings if your site is stagnant for a certain period of time). The usual way to fix this is to make some updates to the site. I never have enough time to make the substantial updates that I want, so I'm adding a couple of easy states. I'm not very far away from just adding the rest of the US; however, it seems like around a dozen states have unexpected issues in the data that I have to deal with (for instance, one state I was going to include had a single quote in one of the plane's tail numbers- weird!).
Bigger update(4/3/10)I've added a separate page for each plane crash that contains some additional details on the crash. Included are some more zoomed-in maps, and part of the NTSB report in some cases. I have yet to include all NTSB reports- I'm just beginning to figure out how to best compress the data, and rearchitect the backend of the site to display all data. The new data should increase my hitcount a bit, giving me more motivation to work on the site more. I have even more data to add to the site (from the NTSB databases), as well as some cleaning up to do to make the site more presentable. I don't have an ETA for these changes yet, but expect something in about two months...
Minor update(3/21/10)Several other projects have taken quite a bit of my time lately, and I have much more in the works- but I've decided that its best now to post a small update. I added a key to the map in order to help people decipher more about what each of the map icons mean. That's pretty much it. I hope to hit this more lately, but I've been involved in other things.
New domain (11/29/09)I've been out of the country for a while, and busy for a while before that, so not many updates. I've also been learning python to help me cope with some of the data preprocessing that I've been doing in PHP. This should help me with some PHP memory consumption problems that I've been having. This is one of several roadblocks to getting a much larger volume of data uploaded. I've added planecrashmap.com to point to this site as well. This should hit more keywords that people are using to find the information on this site. This should be tracked separately in Google Analytics, so I'm interested to see what it will do without many external links.
First traffic rush, and why I have ads here (10/5/09)First, welcome to all the people coming from the Super Cub forum and from the PilotMall forum. This is the site's first big batch of visitors. I've tried to find a link to the Super Cub forum post in order to see just what discussion pointed the 300 or so users this way, but have been unsuccessful. I'd appreciate a link if one of you guys has a minute to email me: lee (at) leecbaker (dot) com. I've added ads today in order to try to pay for the site, rather than run it as a charity out of my own pocket. I hate to do this, but it seems like the only appropriate way to run the site. Asking for donations doesn't seem like a great thing to do. I hate ads as much as the next person, but hey, it seems to be good enough to keep most of the rest of the Internet paid for, maybe it can work here. I'm really just looking to pay for the hosting. It would be cool to develop this kind of site at home for a living, but I'm going to keep it as a hobby right now (and thus don't really need too much income from the site). So, if you've clicked on an ad, thanks. I will try my best to minize intrusiveness of ads, as well as minimize their use. Also- I'm noticing now that Google has deemed it appropriate to put ads in some oriental language on the front page, while using English ads (that seem a lot more relevant!) everywhere else. I wonder if I did something to bring this on?
Crash lists added (9/12/09)I added lists of the crashes to the site. This was done mainly to add text that Google can index to make it easier to find the site. I really don't like having extra pages, and would have liked to do everything on this site dynamically- but right now, this seems to be the only way to generate pagerank/traffic until other sites link here.
More states and IE performance fixed (9/3/09)I've added a good number of the midwest states, more than doubling the number of states with available records from 9 to 20. This should increase the usefulness of the site to many visitors. I have also modified the maps to use the Google maps 2 interface. This has been in the works for a long time, as it required a bit of the code to be rewritten. During performance testing, I found that the bulkier Google Maps V2 interface worked much faster than Google Maps V3 in IE, despite claims that the V3 interface was a lightweight interface. I am happy to report big speed gains. I attribute much of the gains to more mature code, even if it is more bulky. The version 2 Maps API has many more available features and libraries, and I look forward to adding some of these to the map interface.
City geocoding accuracy improved for NTSB data (8/28/09)The NTSB data source that much of this site is based on contains many misspellings. One of the most important places that these misspellings affect the usability of the data is in the city/state information. While many of the mistakes are understandable, it is obvious that there are large issues in spelling the names of many cities correctly. I am pushing out an update that applies manual corrections to many of the city names. I continue to make progress in reducing the number of un-geocodable entries that are listed below each map. Arizona and Colorado both a disproportionately large number of misspelled names. Arizona suffers from having many unusual town names, while Colorado has many two-word town names. In particular, the NTSB seemed to like to abbreviate any name that was over a certain number of characters. NTSB reports seem to be totally inconsistent in the way that "Springs" is abbreviated- Colorado Springs had 8 variations in different reports, as did Steamboat Springs. Pagosa Springs, Glenwood Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs and Eldorado Springs are also massively misnamed or misabbreviated. Some Arizona towns had almost funny misspellings: Mormon Lake, AZ was spelled as "Morman Lake." Truth or Consequences, NM was misspelled as "Truth&consequen, NM" which doesn't seem right at all! In other news, I am preparing to deploy a solution that should yield faster loading and rendering, especially in Internet Explorer. I have been a bit worried that the site is totally inaccessible to IE users due to poor Google maps performance. While I provide a warning on the front page, I do think that it greatly decreases the appeal of the site. I expect this update to be ready on the next update day (8/31/09).
Added Oregon data (8/25/09)I added Oregon data to the site. It is interesting to note how many more orange markers Oregon has than green. This indicates that the Air Force dataset that I draw exact locations from doesn't have many of these locations, meaning either that the air force doesn't have as much of a presence in that state, or that the aircraft are harder to spot from the air (or both). Montana is very similar in this respect.
City marker declustering, more accurate geocoding (8/22/09)I've put a very simple algorithm in to decluster coincedent markers on cities. Accidents with unknown exact locations are put to the city mentioned in the NTSB report. Often, this leads to a lot of markers on top of a single city. These were all on top of each other in previous versions- I have spread them out into a grid, increasing their accesibility.
I added a much larger city database for geocoding to the data sources. This should correct many errors found in the previous database, and also include many smaller and newer towns not present in the old database. This reduces the number of unlocatable cities found below the map for many states. I will work soon to reduce this list further by trying to parse some of the town names better.
I added links today to the NTSB reports. I'm pretty sure that I have both the text and PDF links in for all reports that are currently available.
In the quest to get a more adaptable and scriptable development environment, I migrated my development platform to use Ubuntu on a virtual machine for prototyping. This allows me to rebuild and test all states locally, as well as to perform some more memory intensive processing while baking the data before the page. I still do all of my editing in Windows, with a FTP connection to the Ubuntu VM (using VMware Player). More details on my quest to obtain a more automated, usable, and responsive development environment.