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. For foreign aviation enthusiasts, the event offered a great opportunity to admire many Soviet-era planes and helicopter as well as "smokers".

The flying display started with the traditional fly-by of a Mi-17 with the Bulgarian flag hanging under its belly and the take-offs of a pair of MiG-29s and a L-39. The Albatross performed a great display before leaving the airspace to two Su-25s from Bezmer air base who made several ground attacks.

The dynamic part 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 waited for the end of the excellent aerobatic sequences of a Pilatus PC-9M before returning over the airfield to perform epic demos. The two Fulcrums simulated an amazing dogfight, while the Spartan performed stunning low-level maneuvers.

Subsequently a Mi-17 helicopter conducted a fire demonstration dropping water from a Bamby bucket in front of the crowd. The Mi-17 is the only BuAF aircraft used to fight fires. 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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