Hunting for Mig's in Bulgaria,
After last years failure to visit Graf Ignatievo due to the pending arrival of the Oregon Air National guard F-15ís and a late arrival at Bezmer we decided to give it a other go this year.
Like in Thailand Bulgaria has a day off the children. In Bulgaria this is the first of June.
On this day several base may have a open day lasting from around 09:00 till 13:30 with bases being few and far apart not more than one can normally be visited, with the exception off Graf Ignatievo en Krumovo situated at posited sides of
Via contacts with several Bulgarian spotters we found out that Graf Ignatievo was definitely open and Krumovo maybe. On arrival at Graf Ignatievo there was a handful of people at the gate and we where on base in no time. It is amazing how
little people are coming to a event like this. Even with Plovdiv a city of some size nearby.
Graf Ignatievo is at this moment the main fighter base of the Bulgarian Air Force. In its history after the second world wore it has been the mome to the HQ and 1st and 2nd squadronsí of the 19th FAR, 10th Composite Air Corps, flying with
types like the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19 and MiG-21. In 1994 it became the 3rd Fighter Air Base of the Tactical Air Corps, with the MiG-21bis and in its turn was transferred to the Air Defence Corps in 1996. After the closure off Ravnetz Air
Base in 2000 the MiG-29s where also stationed here.
At the moment there are two squadrons flying at Graf Ignatievo with the 3.IAB, 1/3 Iztrebitelna Avio Eskadrila flying the Mig-21 Bis and UM and 2/3 Iztrebitelna Avio Eskadrila flying the MiG-29 a and UB. Also present is a large numbers of
Mig-21ís stored in several aprons over the field, although the dump is getting filed more and more with Mig-21ís.
Coming back to the open day, donít expect to much of it. It is more about the quality than the quantity.
On the static where a Mig-21 Bis, Mig-21 UM and a Mig-29 next to some airport equipment. And on the flight line where a Mig-21 UM and a Mig-29 UB with where the focal point of the open day.
The flying display was better with a Mig-21 Bis, Mig-21 UM and a Mig-29 UB in the first wave and three Mig-29 A and a Mig-29 UB in the second wave.
With al the aircraft passing in front off the visitors on the roller track the opportunity for some nice shots was there, the flying consisted off some touch and goes and a high altitude dog fight between two Mig-29ís not very good for photo
A big surprise was a Mi-24 for Mali, it appeared out of one of the maintenance hangers and made some engine runes properly for a pre delivery inspection.
After the flying display and taking some distant pictures of the QRA Mig-21ís it was of to Krumovo, but not after we took some pictures of the gate guards.
At Krumovo the 24 Vertoletna Aviacionna Basa (24.VAB) is based with the 1/24 Vertoletna Avio Eskadrila flying the Mi-24 the 2/24 Vertoletna Avio Eskadrila flying the Mi-17 and the AS 532 with 12 being in the process off delivery and the
Otdelna Uchebno Aviozveno with the Bell 206.
During our visit to Graf Ignatievo it came to our attention that Krumovo was not open because of the transports going to Afghanistan for which a AN-124 was present. Next to the main gate of the air base is the Bulgarian Museum of Aviation
this was established 1991 and has around 60 aircraft on display.
The museum is nice and has some interesting planes on display like a unique Arado AR-196 combat floatplane and most of the typeís used by the Bulgarian Air Force after the war. But this was not the main goal of the visit, seen from the ring
road where some AS523 flying, and from the museum the opportunities for some nice shots can be good. And we where lucky enough to catch some Mi-24 in the take off and a Mi-17.
On last place that was visited is Katunitza, on a local yard there are 10 Mig-23 BN stored. These joust to be at the nearby Cheshnegirovo-Sadovo air base, former home of the 25 IBAB whom ceased flying in 2001. The future of these planes in
Compared to last years failure to see any active flying at all this was a great success and looking at the pictures it was very good.
A word off advice to any one who is thinking about doing the same next year. In principle there should be a open day at the first of June, but if its really going to happen is something completely else. As operational demands can easily
cancel a day, like at Kromovo this year