Friday, 20 October 2017

Bulgaria part deux 20th - 23rd October 2017

The long awaited re-visit to Bulgaria for Nay, Buster, Dazcat and Pogo. Lots of miles and lots of MiG's on sticks for this trip. Plus a beer or two.....OK, maybe a few more than that :-)

After all meeting up at Luton in the early hours we headed to Franky and Bennies for the now standard brekkie, before heading to our gate for Wizz Air's W6 4302 to Sofia.

A few hit the log for Luton before we went air side.

Luton 20-10-17
HB-JUC Dassault Falcon 7X
N1AZ Gulfstream G4
N2PG Gulfstream G650
N798MS Embraer Legacy 650

HA-LXH had the honours of taking us.
HA-LXH A321 Luton 20-10-17

Arriving at Sofia we did a quick circuit after picking up the hire car.

Sofia 20-10-17

Bulgarian Air Force
072 Aeritalia C-27J Spartan
073 Aeritalia C-27J Spartan
504 Mil Mi-2
505 Mil Mi-2

D-ABZB Airbus A320 Austrian Airlines
G-DHKF Boeing 757-200 DHL Worldwide Courier Express
LZ-AOB Airbus A319 Bulgarian Government
LZ-CAN Mil Mi-8S Heli Air Services
LZ-CAT Mil Mi-8S Heli Air Services
LZ-FBA Airbus A319 Bulgaria Air
LZ-FBD Airbus A320 Bulgaria Air
LZ-FBE Airbus A320 Bulgaria Air
LZ-LAB Airbus A320 Bulgarian Air Charter
OE-IAF Boeing 737-400  TNT Airways
SP-SPA Aerospatiale ATR 72 Sprint Air

Next up was the AN-2 in the police compound just a few miles away. We gave this a miss last time as the weather wasn't good. But with the sun shining this time it was fair game.

Sofia Town 20-10-17
Unknown Antonov AN-2

The first bit of unfinished business for us was next. The MiG at German eluded us twice last time. Once due to darkness and the second in dense fog. This time though we caught it right and the owner allowed us to take a few snaps.

German 20-10-17
43 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM-SPS Bulgarian Air Force
43 MiG-21 German 20-10-17

We had a quick look in at the heliport at Lozen, but it was deserted as expected. Without further ado we sped off in the direction of Plovdiv. More unfinished business at Graf awaited.

The last time we were here the MiG-29's defeated us with fog and fading light. We were determined to read some this time around. Also we had failed to see the MiG-21 outside the HQ last time. We hunted this down too.

Graf Ignatievo Airbase 20-10-17

Bulgarian Air Force

1/3 Eskadrila
16 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29A - 25th markings on tail
26 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29A

(04) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19S - marked 681
04 as 681 MiG-19 Graf Iganatievo 20-10-17
(63) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23BN
(502) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis

Italian Air Force
MM7282/(36-15) Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon

Due to the angle and ramp positions another two 29's went begging. As did another couple of Typhoon's. We decided to come back in the morning for another go.

With the darkness approaching we headed for our hotel for the night in Plovdiv town. The hotel restaurant was still open so some food was ordered and we sat in the beer garden to relax and knock a few back.

Whilst enjoying the local beer a Ryanair departed Plovdiv and went straight over us.

Plovdiv 20-10-17
EI-GDA Boeing 737-800 Ryanair

That was day 1 finished. Time for sleep and an early start the next morning.

Day 2 started with the last of the unfinished business from trip one. The MiG-21 preserved in the barracks in Plovdiv, which eluded us last time by the, you guessed it fog and darkness.

After searching the wall for gaps we found a limited view of the nose and tail sections.

Plovdiv Barracks 21-10-17
(45) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM Bulgarian Air Force

After this we headed back to Graf, the original plan was to go to Krumovo and try to view some of the active heli's. But the lure of those 29's won the day.

Upon arriving we had no further luck with the MiG's. But we did see four Italian Tiffers!

Graf Ignatievo Airbase 21-10-17

Italian Air Force
MM7282/(36-15) Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon
(MM7235)/(4)-13 Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon
MM.... Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon
MM.... Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon

Heading back south we stopped in at Graf's tin drome.

Graf Ignatievo South 21-10-17
I-C382 Pipistrel Sinus
I-C447 Ikarus C22
I-C447 C22 Graf Ignatievo South 21-10-17
I-C748 TL96
I-C748 TL-96 Graf Ignatievo South 21-10-17
LZ-COT BRM Aero NG-5 Bristell
LZ-COT NG-5 Graf Ignatievo South 21-10-17
LZ-SLM Marinosyan M320
LZ-SLM Graf 21-10-17
LZ-TSA TL Ultralight TL-2000 Sting Carbon
LZ-TSA TL-2000 Graf Ignatievo South 21-10-17

On the way to our next stop we passed the MiG-23 at Sadovo, the last time we saw this it was getting a paint job. Rude not to stop for a fresh picture now she's all finished.

Sadovo 21-10-17
66 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23BN Bulgarian Air Force
66 MiG-23 Sadovo 21-10-17

Onwards we go, a fairly recent arrival next.

Ahmatovo 21-10-17
294 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis Bulgarian Air Force
294 MiG-21 Ahmatovo 21-10-17

Another MiG-21 next preserved at the old base.

Uzundzhovo 21-10-17
411 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21M Bulgarian Air Force
411 MiG-21 Uzundzhovo 21-10-17

Into Haskovo for another MiG-21, this one on the roof of a restaurant.

Haskovo 21-10-17
(513) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21F-13 Bulgarian Air Force

Next up was Koren, the two MiG's here are unknown, but we took a look anyway. None of them are under any netting anymore though. Neither had any obvious markings but a close inspection wasn't possible.

Koren 21-10-17
Unk Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15
Unk Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15
Unknown MiG-17 Koren 21-10-17

The first of many MiG-17's for the trip was next. This one tucked away in a Police compound.

Lyubimets 21-10-17
(38) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Bulgarian Air Force

Time for a food and drink stop just 3km's from the Greek border, and of course an L-29!

Svilengrad 21-10-17
74 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
74 L-29 Svilengrad 21-10-17

As much as Greece was appealing we turned and headed back north. The next MiG had seen better days.

Kovachevo 21-10-17
(212) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI Bulgarian Air Force
212 MiG-15 Kovachevo 21-10-17

Back on the road for another MiG-21, this one looking pretty good.

Korten 21-10-17
947 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis Bulgarian Air Force
947 MiG-21 Korten 21-10-17

Time was getting on and the light was fading as we headed for Bezmer airbase. We had a quick look at Boljarsko where the stored Sukhoi's used to be. As expected they had all gone long ago.

On to the base, we headed to the main gate first to see the preserved MiG there. Then a good hour was spent exploring to find a good view of anything out. 

We saw at least six SU-25's dotted around, but were unable to find a good spot to read any. The three SU-22's were still present though.

Bezmer Airbase 21-10-17

Bulgarian Air Force

144 Mikoyan-Gurevich Lim-5 

(502) Sukhoi Su-22M-4 
(612) Sukhoi Su-22M-4 
(613) Sukhoi Su-22M-4

The small museum at Yambol was to be next but as the night had caught up with us it was dark when we arrived. Unsurprisingly the gate was shut and locked. We could see the nose of one aircraft sticking out but would only be guessing as to what it was. As we will be back it can wait until we give Bezmer another go.

The final stop for the day was a MiG preserved at another old base.

Ravnets 21-10-17
(119) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis Bulgarian Air Force
119 MiG-21 Ravnets 21-10-17

Finding our hotel in Burgas was easy enough, and a short walk down to the high street found a nice restaurant with an interesting menu and a selection of beer. From here we looked back at the day, and discussed Pogo's likeness to a "Fat Paul Scholes". It seems yet another nickname is born :-)

Day 3 started at Burgas for first light. After finding a coffee in the terminal we checked what was in before visiting the museum. Some say the Burgas Airport Aviation Expo is closed. Well, as it is open access I beg to differ. A good start on the main ramp, an active IL-62. Awesome!

Burgas 22-10-17
D-ASXO Boeing 737-8HX Sun Express
EW-450TR Ilyushin IL62MGr Rada Airlines
G-DMNG Diamond DA-42MPP-NG Twin Star
LZ-LDK Douglas MD-82 Bulgarian Air Charter
LZ-LDU Douglas MD-82 Bulgarian Air Charter
LZ-LDY Douglas MD-82 Bulgarian Air Charter

39 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM Bulgarian Air Force
39 MiG-21 Burgas 22-10-17
62 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
62 MiG-17 Burgas 22-10-17
64 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
64 L-29 Burgas 22-10-17
(202) Mil Mi-2 Bulgarian Air Force - marked 01
202 Mi-2 Burgas 22-10-17
(LZ-1089) WSK-PZL An-2R
LZ-1089 AN-2 Burgas 22-10-17
(LZ-7001) Antonov An-14
LZ-7001 AN-14 Burgas 22-10-17
(LZ-ANF) Antonov An-24B - cockpit section
LZ-ANF AN-24 Burgas 22-10-17
(LZ-ANL) Antonov An-24B
LZ-ANL AN-24 Burgas 22-10-17
(LZ-BAB) Antonov An-12B
LZ-BAB AN-12 Burgas 22-10-17
LZ-BTU Tupolev TU-154B
LZ-BTU TU-154 Burgas 22-10-17
LZ-ILE IL-14 Burgas 22-10-17

A nice little collection indeed. Time for a little run up the coast where the views are a bit conflicting. You can see the nice touristy bit with the Black Sea whilst passing Albert and Harold going about their business.

Anyway, in the touristy bit a hotel has a Mi-2 outside. Pity it was part covered.

Ravda 22-10-17
(215) Mil Mi-2 Bulgarian Air Force
215 Mi-2 Ravda 22-10-17

No problem with covers on this lovely piece of Miggage.

Nessebar 22-10-17
277 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis (SAU) Bulgarian Air Force
277 MiG-21 Nessebar. 22-10-17

Outside a go-kart track is an AN-2

Sunny Beach 22-10-17
(LZ-914) WSK-PZL An-2R
LZ-914 AN-2 Sunny Beach 22-10-17

Time to cut back and head inland again. The Varna area is pencilled in for a future mop up trip.

At a trekking hut is a Lim-5. No problem taking a photo here. Just a family having a kickabout. Scholesy offered an autograph but they weren't United fans...besides his pass wasn't up to scratch.

Hizha Luliak 22-10-17
124 Lim-5 Bulgarian Air Force
124 Lim-5 Hizha Luliak 22-10-17

Time for a triumvirate of fighters.

Omurtag 22-10-17
102 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bis (SAU) Bulgarian Air Force
102 MiG-21 Omurtag. 22-10-17
503 Sukhoi Su-22M-4 Bulgarian Air Force
503 SU-22 Omurtag 22-10-17a
941 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19PM Bulgarian Air Force
941 MiG-19 Omurtag 22-10-17

At what appears to be a closed school was a MiG-19 looking a bit sorry for itself.

Yastrebino 22-10-17
(938) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19PM Bulgarian Air Force
938 MiG-19 Yastrebino 22-10-17

Yet another MiG next that seems to have been left to ruins.

Zlataritsa 22-10-17
132 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
132 MiG-17 Zlataritsa 22-10-17

A rare GA drome next which was gated. Just a Gulfstream on the ramp and an AN-2 that has a very faded reg. Too faded to read more than LZ-

Gorna Oryahovitsa 22-10-17
OK-JMD Gulfstream G550
OK-JMD G550 Gorna Oryahavitsa 22-10-17
+ a stored AN-2

Another school for a MiG. Plenty of kids playing on this. Didn't have nothing like that at my school!

Byala 22-10-17
(204) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 UTI Bulgarian Air Force
204 MiG-15 Byala 22-10-17

The next MiG on a plinth in a garden.

Karaisen 22-10-17
112 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
112 MiG-17 Karaisen 22-10-17

Another Delfin on a plinth.

Mihaltsi 22-10-17
90 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
90 L-29 Mihaltsi 22-10-17

In quick succession we had four MiG-17's in a row. All on plinths in various states.

Suhindol 22-10-17
(148) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
148 MiG-17 Suhindol 22-10-17

Gorsko Silvovo 22-10-17
90 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
90 MiG-17 Gorsko Silvovo 22-10-17

Letnitsa 22-10-17
35 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
35 MiG-17 Letnitsa 22-10-17

Kamenets 22-10-17
82 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
82 MiG-17 Kamenets 22-10-17

Kamenets was our last logging of the day, we had a GA drome pencilled in at Bohot but it was getting late. We opted to find a main road for our evening drive to Pleven, the pot holes in the dark are not fun at all.

Eventually we found our lodgings for the night, a guest house. Our hosts were very friendly and even offered to arrange some take out food for us. This was swiftly followed by a good amount of beer and some form of spirit, Rakia maybe, but it certainly did the job!

At first we thought our host whose English was pretty good, even if it did revolve around film quotes, was having a laugh with us. He said he had arranged some ladies of the night to attend for us!

He wasn't joking! Although none of us partook the offer some of the other guests kept them busy. I'm pretty sure we were all too drunk anyway, especially Dazcat, who decided it was a good idea to tell them he was a Typhoon pilot!

Another nickname enters the fray.....Biggles!

Waking an hour later than we had planned in the morning, the day started with four of us nursing tender heads! The first stop just a few minutes up the road.

Dolna Mitropoliva Airbase 23-10-17

Bulgarian Air Force

Instructional Airframes
36 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PFM
632 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MLA

Utchebna Avio Eskadrila
147 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatros
202 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatros
203 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatros
205 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatros
209 Aero Vodochody L-39ZA Albatros
L-39s Dolna Mitropoliva AB 23-10-17

Some sources quote the L-39's as stored or inactive here. Although some seemed to be more covered than the others they were certainly active. Two at least were being readied for flying.

A fair amount of roadworks kept us away from the main gate, the MiG here will have to wait for another day. As will the other preserved bits and pieces on base.

The next few hours were spent traversing the local villages where a host of Let's and MiG's can be found.

Trastenik 23-10-17
(96) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
96 MiG-17 Trastenik 23-10-17

Gorna Mitropoliya 23-10-17
48 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
48 L-29 Gorna Mitropoliya 23-10-17

Dolni Dabnik 23-10-17
84 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
84 L-29 Dolni Dabnik 23-10-17

Komarevo 23-10-17
23 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Bulgarian Air Force
23 MiG-17 Komarevo 23-10-17

Krushovene 23-10-17
47 Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
47 L-29 Krushovene 23-10-17

The MiG at Bardarski was previously marked as 120, and was in question as to its real identity. When we arrived however it had undergone a new paint job and was marked as 130, which was suspected as its true identity.

Bardarski Geran 23-10-17
(22) Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin Bulgarian Air Force
22 L-29 Bardarski Geran 23-10-17
130 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17F Bulgarian Air Force
130 MiG-17 Bardarski Geran 23-10-17

Next up a MiG-21, these seem to be rare for this part of the country.

Telish 23-10-17
(125) Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21PF Bulgarian Air Force - marked as 123
125 as 123 MiG-21 Telish 23-10-17

Finally our last MiG on a stick for the trip. We thought this could only be viewed from outside and struggled to see it. But on closer inspection we drove into the Palfinger facility and managed to drive straight up to it!

Cherven Bryag 23-10-17
125 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Bulgarian Air Force
125 MiG-17 Cherven Bryag 23-10-17

We did have one last stop penciled in, a re-visit to Ribaritsa as they now have a MiG-21 to keep the Delfin company. But as we had started later than planned we headed straight to Sofia. One for another day.

A stop in Maccies for something to eat, Nay wanted to avoid eating in the terminal after a bad experience last year.

A quick look at the military side found as you'd expect from here. Views in the future may be more difficult here, as there seems to be a new hangar being built in the square where you can see from.

Sofia 23-10-17

Bulgarian Air Force
(020) Pilatus PC-12
055 Antonov AN-30
068 Let L-410UVP
070 Antonov AN-26
072 Aeritalia C-27J Spartan
073 Aeritalia C-27J Spartan

EC-KAD Aerospatiale ATR 72 Swiftair
LZ-ABR Antonov An-26B Rose Air
LZ-FBD Airbus A320 Bulgaria Air
LZ-FLA Antonov An-26B Bright Flight Ltd
LZ-LAD Airbus A320 Bulgarian Air Charter
N500GX Embraer Legacy 500 Corporate
YR-ATG Aerospatiale ATR 42 Tarom

Once airside we relaxed and awaited our flight home, Wizz Air's W6 4305 served by a 320 this time, HA-LYP.

A quick run around the local found a few of interest.

Luton 23-10-17
N88HD Bombardier Challenger 300
N203AH Gulfstream G450
N679MS Embraer Legacy 600
TC-KLN Bombardier 605 Challenger

All in a great trip, we rarely stopped laughing at the banter and enjoyed some quality aircraft. I'm sure we will be back again next year to try and mop up some more of these gems.