We can’t help being tantalized by the sight of derelict airplanes. Their mere presence represents a mystery, a backstory of abandonment we yearn to hear. Award-winning Russian photographer Dmitry Osadchy knows that well, and uses his drone cameras to take us on a world tour of aviation’s ghostships.

Some of the airplanes rest alone in barren landscapes, like the F104 Starfighter pictured above, on an abandoned airfield near Crete. Others are clustered together in mass graves. Either way, they all possess a strange, forlorn beauty. Here’s a selection of Osadchy’s imagery. You can see more on Instagram @like_a_free.

TriStar L-1011 in desert
This Lockheed TriStar L-1011, in the middle of the Rub’ al Khali desert near Abu Dhabi, UAE, is a remnant of the collection belonging to Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan.
ekranoplan in Caspian Sea
A Soviet-era Lun-class ekranoplan (a ground-effect vehicle) sits on a beach on the Caspian Sea, where it awaits delivery to a military-theme Patriot Park being built in Dagestan, Russia.
aircraft repair plant
In this aircraft repair plant in Saint Petersburg, Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters will be harvested for spare parts.
Ghostships of the Air
An Antonov An-2 in an industrial zone in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Ghostships of the Air
The Be-6 flying boat was the first Soviet amphibious aircraft. Only four units remain in the world, including this one in the Murmansk region, Kola Peninsula, Russia.
Ghostships of the Air
This Antonov An-8, at a military base in Saint-Petersburg, could be used for training, but instead lies forgotten.
Ghostships of the Air
A Sukhoi Su-27 at a semi-abandoned military base in Kronstadt, Russia.
Ghostships of the Air
Photographer Dmitry Osadchy sits on an Antonov An-2 crashed in the desert near Al Aweer, UAE, May 2021.

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This story is a selection from the June/July issue of Air & Space magazine