While the aging aerospace workforce is a widespread concern, this year's Aviation Week Photo Contest shows encouraging signs of youth with two winners in their teens. This year we received entries from 32 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia as well as entries from a total of 24 countries on six continents.

Best of the Best

John Kraus is an 18-year-old photographer from Satellite Beach, Florida. He graduated from high school in May and plans to make photography his full-time career. “Living on the Space Coast my entire life, I’ve always recognized my community’s heritage as America’s premier gateway to space,” he says, “but when I started photography in early 2015—basically on a whim —my drive to capture rocket launches greatly increased my appreciation for the immense preparation, coordination and engineering prowess required to conduct spaceflight operations, as well as the meticulous attention to detail required to capture the perfect moment in one still frame.”

First Place, Commercial

Kentaro Mishima, born in 1999 in the Shimane prefecture of Japan, is a student at Tokyo Polytechnic University, where he is studying photography. He has won numerous other photography awards, including first prize from the Japanese magazine Airplane Photo Technic this summer. 

Second Place, Commercial

Avichai Socher is a 2009 Master of Science graduate of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in aerospace engineering and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Tel Aviv University. He has photographed a wide range of subjects including aviation, wildlife, landscapes, macro and night photography. He won Defense first place in the 2014 Aviation Week Photo Contest, and had an Editor’s Pick in the 2015 Aviation Week Photo Contest. He won Defense first place again in 2016.

Third Place, Commercial

Angelo Bufalino is a published, award-winning photographer based in Memphis, Tennessee, whose photography focuses on his passion for aviation. He is also
a Boeing 767 line check airman for a major cargo company and flies worldwide. He is married and has four children. He shoots exclusively with Nikon equipment and edits with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik software. He has won in previous Aviation Week Photo Contests.

First Place, Space

Ed Whitman is a senior photographer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. With more than 40 years of commercial photography experience, he supports the nation’s largest university-affiliated research center, photographing the lab’s people, places and projects—technical work that spans health care to space exploration. Over the last decade at APL, Whitman has documented a number of NASA missions built and managed by APL—including Stereo, New Horizons, Van Allen Probes and the Parker Solar Probe.

Second Place, Space

Bill Jelen is a Merritt Island, Florida-based photographer and writer for WeReportSpace.com. His photographs have appeared in the book We Report Space and were selected for a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. He is a volunteer at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral AFS. When he isn’t covering rocket launches with his wife, Mary Ellen Jelen, you will find him on the road entertaining accountants with his “Power Excel from MrExcel” seminar.  

Third Place, Space

Ben Cooper is a professional photographer for the U.S. space program and takes many of the official photographs at Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center. He has been photographing the U.S. space program since 1999, when he was 14. He worked as a photographer for Aviation Week and SpaceflightNow before his work with NASA. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, he has been an official photographer for U.S. launch companies. Originally from New York, he has lived in Florida since 2003 and graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

First Place, Defense and Second Place, General

Steve Zimmerman is a retired engineer, pilot and aircraft owner living in Colorado. A lifelong association with airplanes and photography—his parents were both pilots and his grandmother gave him a Brownie box camera was seven—made it all but inevitable that aerial and aviation photography would become a prime focus in his retirement. Two of his photos were published in the 2018 Photo Contest issue, but this is the first time he has won.

Second Place, Defense

Yissachar Ruas was born in New York and lives in Bet Shemesh, Israel. He and his wife, Tami, have five amazing kids. He shoots worldwide commercially, with a special interest in military aviation. Ruas has shot numerous projects for the Israeli Air Force, including yearly projects for its display team and combat squadrons. Ruas has flown with the U.S. Marine Corps as well as the air forces of Israel, NATO members, the U.S. and Colombia. He has used Canon equipment ever since his mother gave him an AE-1 when he was eight.

Third Place, Defense

Peter Lewis is a Zurich-based aviation photographer and owner of an aerospace company. He has published articles worldwide on the Swiss Air Force. Swiss Tiger Parallel Flight is his latest and fourth book. Specializing in air-to-air photography with both military airplanes and commercial types over the Swiss Alps, Lewis’ pictures have graced the covers of numerous aircraft magazines. His aviation knowledge, specialized writing and photography have received global acclaim.   

First Place, General

Richard Larocque is a freelance photographer based in Rimouski, Quebec. A retired marine biologist with a passion for photography, he specializes in aviation, aerial, underwater and adventure travel photography.  

Third Place, General

Ed Hicks has worked in aviation photography for 25 years. He specializes in air-to-air work and has performed assignments for a wide array of manufacturers and magazines. He has worked extensively with UK general aviation magazine Flyer since 2011 and has been its editor since 2014. A private pilot who flies for fun, Ed has built and flown a Van’s Aircraft RV-6. He is currently finishing an RV-8.