Two Aircraft with same tail number?

We manage and operate a King Air 200, N5MK, registered to LHI Air, Inc. and we base the plane at PBI (Palm Beach). Frequently, when our plane is not flying, like right now, I see on the graphical tracking display another N5MK shown in the Chicago area. I cannot get any data on it, but the tracker shows it there. There is no other plane listed in the FAA database with N5MK as the tail number but ours. Can you tell me what is happening? Thanks. Shawn.

Since it’s only showing on the map, it’s probably a VFR flight. Sometimes controllers will only put in the last 3 characters of an aircraft’s tail number when flying VFR, so N[something]5MK and N[something][something]5MK will appear on your aircraft’s map.

Thanks for the explanation. That explains it!

Same thing happens with us. Learjet N31V is a Lear 45, based in NY. Yet we often see it pop up over S. Carolina at or about 3000 feet agl. when we know the aircraft in on the ground in NY.

Shame on those controllers!

I’m wondering if FA has ever considered using some of those search routines that would match the last available characters with a database search of all aircraft tails ending with those same numbers, seeing whether any were last located in the appropriate state, and suggesting that the ‘correct’ tail number was ‘such-and-such’. Presumably this would be done when a flight filed no flight plan and would be VFR with flight-following.