Report: Graf Ignatievo Air Show 2019

The Bulgarian Air Force celebrates 20 years of Bell 206, 30 years of MiG-29 and 40 years of Mi-24.

Graf Ignatievo Air Show 2019
Bulgarian Air Force MiG-29 during the Graf Ignatievo Air Show 2019.

On June 29, 2019, the Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) held an air show at Graf Ignatievo Air Base to celebrate the long service provided by three of its aircraft: 20 years Bell 206, 30 years MiG-29 and 40 years Mi-24. The event attracted thousands of aviation enthusiasts as well as many foreign spotters who had the opportunity to take rare photos of Soviet-era aircraft and helicopters.

The flying display began with the traditional flyby of a Mi-17 with the Bulgarian flag hanging under the belly and the take-offs of a pair of MiG-29s and an L-39 Albatross. The latter performed high-speed flyovers and aerobatic maneuvers before giving way to two Su-25s from Bezmer Air Base which carried out several ground attacks.

The dynamic program continued with the performance of a Bell 206 and a SAR demo by a Cougar helicopter. Additional power was offered by two MiG-29s who escorted a C-27J during an air policing simulation. The three aircraft then cleared airspace for the performance of a Pilatus PC-9M before returning above the airfield to conduct epic demos. The two Fulcrums simulated an amazing dogfight, while the Spartan performed stunning low-level maneuvers.

Later a Mi-17 helicopter showed how to fight a fire by dropping water from a Bamby bucket in front of the crowd. The Mi-17 is the only BuAF aircraft used for this task. The action continued with the performance of a Mi-24 and a MiG-29. The Bulgarian MiG-29 performed a rare solo display that included complex low-level maneuvers and the acclamated "Hammer Head". Surely all aviation enthusiasts will miss it when its legacy will be taken over by the modern F-16V. The Air Show ended with the fly-by of the celebrated aircraft: Bell 206, Mi-24 and MiG-29.

Text: Matteo Sanzani and Kiril Todorov
Images: Kiril Todorov

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