I went to Bulgaria once more in April 2003. It was my seventh time there. During a six day period I did some travelling, enjoyed the food and drink and met some old friends. O yeah, I also visited the airbases of Graf Ignatievo, Krumovo and Kamenec. Below is a photo-impression of these visits. I arrived in Sofia on a Saturday while it was raining. The Sunday saw loads of sun but blustery winds while on the Monday, the day before my first visit visibility was down to 100 metres and in less than 24 hours more than 25 cm of snow had fallen from the sky. Luckily the sun was out during my three visits over the next few days. Many thanks to the helpful personnel at the three airbases mentioned, my Bulgarian friends and my companions on the trip.
A few of the museum inmates at Krumovo
The aviationmuseum at the airport of Krumovo has expanded considerably over the past years taking advantage of the large number of recent withdrawals (Mi-24, MiG-21MF, MiG-23's, Su-22's) within the Bulgarian AF. Most recent addition is a Mi-8T, on display since November 2002. Preserved MiG-23BN close to the town of Cheshnegirovo
Not just the museum has aircraft on display: a large number of preserved aircraft can be found around the Central-Bulgarian town of Plovdiv. The MiG-23BN in the picture on the right is on display near its old homebase of Cheshnegirovo. Another one is in Rakovski, hidden on a farm. Hopefully a few more of these Floggers will be put on display for all of us to see!
Mi-24D in the snow at Krumovo A demodified Mi-17PP in an attractive green/green colourscheme at Krumovo
The 24 Helicopter Air Base (24 VAB) flies the Mi-17, Mi-24, Bell 206 & Bell 430 from Krumovo airport close to Plovdiv. During the visit a number of the unit's helicopters could be photographed while standing in a fresh layer of snow. One Mi-17 is always on 24 hour SAR-alert. The preserved Mi-14BT on base has relocated to the nearby museum and its place has been taken by Mi-8T Hip bort 301. All in all a very pleasant but rather chilly day at Plovdiv's snowcovered Krumovo airbase.
Bell 206 hovering at Krumovo
Missile-armed MiG-21bis bort 947 in the town of Korten in Central-Bulgaria
MiG-23UB in the museum of the Military Academy in downtown Sofia
MiG-29 at Graf Ignatievo's flightline
MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-29. Fighter-types which are or were operated by the Bulgarian Airforce. Most of the MiG-21's delivered in 1990 have been withdrawn from use and some, as MiG-21bis 947 pictured on the left, end up as monuments. The last MiG-23's were withdrawn in November 2002 and the above MiG-23UB was given to the museum of the Military Academy in downtown Sofia. This museum currently has a MiG-15UTi, MiG-17, MiG-19PM, two MiG-21's, two MiG-23's, a Su-22, Mi-2, Mi-8T and last but not least a Mi-24D. Bulgaria's MiG-29's are currently being upgraded at Graf's TEREM-plant albeit not without difficulties.
The preserved MiG-21UM at Kamenec
This Delfin used to fly from Dobroslavtsi but ended its career at Kamenec
On the last day of my stay in Bulgaria I had the opportunity to visit the trainingbase of Kamenec located close to the town of Levski. The 12 Training Air Base (12 UAB) operates the L-39ZA Albatros trainer. Unfortunately all
the L-29's were withdrawn during 2002. However, a few L-29's (bort 104, 105, 110, 111, 113, 117 and 119) remain in storage at Kamenec as long as they are not sold. One of them, bort 111, still carries the 'Frecce-Tricolori-look-a-like' colourscheme of the short lived Delfin Team. In front of the staff-building five aircraft are preserved: an L-29, MiG-15UTi, MiG-17, MiG-21PF and MiG-21UM.
L-39ZA bort 'treble one'at Kamenec
L-39ZA 205 with a number of L-29's and L-39's in the background Bulgaria bought a total of 36 L-39's between 1986 and 1990. Some have been withdrawn from use and were sold on the civil market while a few are in use at the airbases of Bezmer and Graf Ignatievo. They are used by the Su-22 and MiG-29 squadron to keep flyingproficiency up while servicability of these two types is low. For more info on Bulgarian L-39's: there is a dedicated page on this site! I saw 18 L-39's at Kamenec, all in fair shape.

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©Robin Polderman 2003

The MiG-17 in Sennik, one of the several dozen of MiG-17/Lim-5 aircraft preserved throughout Bulgaria
Even without permission to access bases a visit to Bulgaria could be worth your while. A large number of withdrawn aircraft has been put on display either in towns or in the few museums in Bulgaria. A number of monuments still remain undiscovered in those parts of Bulgaria which are infrequently visited by aviation enthusiasts. Discovering them is just a matter of time though: I'll be back in Bulgaria 2003!