Welcome to The AvCompass! This is a new series started by the Airways photography team to bring you, the reader, a global planespotting experience right to your devices.

Each week, our photographers will take turns showcasing their favorite cities and spotting locations from around the world. With team members from locations like New Zealand, Greece, Brazil and more, we are excited to provide an in depth look into the world of aviation.

This week, we will be doing something a little different and showcasing each photographer’s best photo of 2020. The photos are a reflection of how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed aviation, an homage to the wonderful aircraft that were retired this year and a way to show how innovation and technology continue to spur the evolution of the aviation industry.

Be sure to click on the photos to be taken to the photographers’ Instagram page, where you can see more of their photos!

Alberto Cucini – Italy

This is for sure not a shot with a great “wow” factor as this year has been quite dull spotting-wise, but this for sure has been my best catch. It was the last civil remaining Il-62 of Rada Airlines seen here resting on Brescia (VBS) apron after a flight from Larnaca bringing military cargo.

Andrew Henderson – USA

This photo was taken at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally Dallas has hundreds of international departures but, on this day there was only a handful and this was one of them. This American 777-300ER took off for the long journey to Hong Kong. It was surreal to see how this pandemic drastically affected aviation. Cheers to 2021!

Brandon Farris – USA

Before the year took a crazy turn, I spent almost 8 hours on a berm in some torrential downpours and crazy cold wind, watching a plane at the end of the runway do nothing. It should have been a sign for 2020, but the next day thank goodness it took off in some amazing light with the Olympics in the back!

Ervin Eslami – London, UK

Last second sunlight to lit up this beautiful livery, Icelandair 757-200 named ‘Vatnajökull’, rocketing out of Heathrow Airport as ‘Icelandair 451’ bound for Reykjavik with some lovely dark clouds lurking in the distance.

John Leivaditis – Greece

After the first COVID-19 lockdown, there was high demand for medical equipment. The Antonov AN-225 “Mriya” brought about 100 tonnes of PPE and with it, a new hope for a calm summer season. For spotters, it was a dream come true. After three months of lockdown, it was a chance to meet up with our friends again, spend some time at the airport and spot the biggest aircraft in the world. The AN-225 had been to Athens four times already and this one was going to be the first time during the day. Here it is seen approaching RW 03R with Mt. Hymettus in the background under the amazing blue Athenian sky.

Kochan Kleps – USA

2020’s challenges brought many hardships to the aviation industry, overshadowing the joy and good-will the industry brings to so many people. I chose this image because it represents the best aviation has to offer, and what I hope we can start to return to in 2021. This is an ANA Boeing 777 I photographed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on January 2nd.

Lorenzo Giacobbo – Italy

2020 started as a transition year for me; new goals, new responsibilities and all was well at the start of the year with this photo at Zurich during the WEF week. We thought that that was only the beginning of a wonderful year, COVID-19 happened and all was back at square one. We will be back stronger and more hungry than before!

Luca Flores – USA

By far my favorite shot I’ve taken to date, the final Qantas 747, VH-OEJ, taxiing out on her retirement flight to MHV under a gorgeous water cannon salute with Qantas employees lined up to wave farewell as seen from a helicopter.

Luke Ayers – USA

Despite the year that we have had, there were many good things that came out of it. I really began to enjoy aviation photography, and I ended up spending countless hours at the airport clicking away at any plane that went past me. One of my favorite aviation experiences was this National 747-400 performing a go-around right in front of me. It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Marco Macca – Italy

This is one of the last 34 Boeing 727s that is still in service. This one belongs to the Malibu Consulting Corporation. Boeing 727-21 registration VP-BAP on final at Naples International Airport. 

Mat Majal – France

As a spotter it was an immense honor and privilege to be able to enter the Airbus delivery center and enter a brand new aircraft that had not served any passengers yet and to be able to take pictures at the foot of this beautiful plane. I have a lot of pictures from this event but I chose this one to showcase this highlight of my 2020.

Mateo Skinner – USA

One logistical obstacle remained before the end of the year, and that was the Holiday Season. The pandemic this year sent everything into a spiral. For the first time ever, families around the world celebrated the holidays through a screen. The only way to connect would be to send gifts to their loved ones. The hard work and dedication of Mail Workers around the nation are the ones who made the dream of gifting gifts nationwide possible.

Noah Pitkin – Australia

This year, many airlines were forced to ground a large portion of their fleet due to the drastically reduced demand for air travel. In Australia, even with our very few COVID-19 cases, we still saw many aircraft grounded and some airlines cease operations. Here is VH-SBB, laying dormant on the Adelaide airport apron, after a rest due to the lack of demand. She re-entered service shortly after this photo was taken.

Phil Wilco – Germany

A magnificent sunset seen from the flight deck of a Boeing 747-400 passenger airplane. Something which nobody thought will be a rare sight at the beginning of 2020. 9hrs44mins in the air, coming from Seoul, starting the initial descend towards FRA with a nice speed of Mach 0.86, no problem for the Queen of the Skies. It was a great atmosphere mother nature presented to us on that evening.

Be sure to come back next week for the next installment of The AvCompass, where we will take a look at the diverse group of government aircraft from around the world.