You may heard about the Google search education site. As you know, one of the things they are doing there, is creating materials for students and teachers to use to both LEARN how to search, and TEACH others how to search. The new Google Search Education website having links to learning/teaching materials (that is free and open for you to re-use in your classes), announcements of upcoming live and online classes, etc.. Daniel M. Russell through his site searchresearch, studies the way people search and research using Google.


In the last week he posted a question to solve, and the question is,


“This is a picture that I took on a trip a few years ago.  Although it seems crazy hard bordering on impossible, working just with the information in this picture, can you:

1.  Figure out how long the runway is?

And, once you’ve figured that out:

2.  What’s the lat/long for this airport?

You’ll have to think like a detective to figure this one out.  “

Do you have any idea, where is the site is located or do you have enough knowledge to find the exact details using Google and online reference sites ? If not, don’t worry, the answer for the question and the method in which he find the right answer is also explained. So on the next time when you find similar problems you can adopt the same/related approach to find the answers easily.

The short answer for the question:  This photo was taken in March, 2004.  It was shot at the Matei airport on Taveuni, Fiji.  The runway there is 910m long (2,986 feet).

Now, How to solve this challenge: In this case, all you know is that it’s somewhere with palm trees (given that it’s me taking the picture, probably somewhere in the tropics), and that the plane in the picture has a tail registration number.

Step 1 :

If you do a simple quoted search [ “DQ-TRI” ] you’ll quickly find that this is a plane that was in the service of Air Fiji.  Info about the plane  It’s a Pilatus Britten-Norman Trislander registered to Air Fiji. (Why use the quotes?  Because without them you end up with far too many off-topics hits.  DQ and TRI both have multiple meanings.  But together in a phrase… they can only mean one thing.) . You’ll find that all planes have tail numbers that identify who they’re registered to—who owns them, etc..  If you read a bit more, about the plane, you can discover all kinds of amazing information out on the open web–who made it, who bought it, where it was sold (and re-sold).  For the history of this particular plane, see Here is a visual comparison of the images in the question with the image that appeared in the Wikipedia article.

Air Fiji-comparison-small

Step 2:

To get the rest of the story, you can check the Wikipedia page for Air Fiji tells the story.  The company started in 1967, but foundered in 2009, selling off all 5 planes in its fleet.  But for the search study purposes, the first photo on the Wikipedia page is a photo of a plane in a nearly identical location (by Herman Luyken).  The interesting bit here is that the plane in the photo, took is in almost exactly the same spot as the Wikipedia photo. This lets us verify that it’s really the same South Pacific airport (and not some other random airport in the tropics).

If you look on the Wikipedia page, for the Matei airport on Taveuni, Fiji, you’ll find it’s at 16°41?26?S 179°52?37?W, and the runway is 910m or 2,986ft.

Step 3:  (How To find the year?)

To find the year, looking for the metadata associated with the image (also called the EXIF data—see the Wikipedia article on EXIF) also had a good idea.  Except the author stripped out the EXIF data, just because he knew you’d be looking. So, you have to be a little careful about the EXIF since it can be altered on purpose (or just by accident when the image is edited).

Are you interested, then read the full story from the searchresearch site. There are different way to solve a problem, if you can find any other powerful but simple way to find the answer, share it with our readers.


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