Tue, 03/31/2020 - 10:18

Burgas Aviation Museum preserves civil, military aircraft from bygone era


You do not need to be particularly interested in old aircraft to enjoy the Burgas Aviation Museum, but visiting it could lead to a new interest in your life. Established in 1998 as a part of Burgas Airport, in 2017 the exhibition was revamped to appeal to the modern visitor.

The collection is a good introduction to the nuts-and-bolts of aviation, and features nine aircraft that were in service during the time of Communism, when the country relied heavily on Soviet planes.

The history of flying in Bulgaria predates the 1944 Communist coup. The first unit for aerial reconnaissance using balloons was set up in 1906. The first Bulgarian Air Force flight took place in 1912, during the Balkan Wars, when two military pilots dropped bombs over besieged Edirne in Turkey. Later, the State Airplane Workshop in Bozhurishte, near Sofia, developed prototypes and manufactured Bulgarian bi-planes called DAP, equipped with German engines. Passenger airports were established in Sofia, Burgas and elsewhere.

Soon after the Communists took power, Bulgarian military and civil aviation started buying Soviet aircraft, and some of the most prominent models are on show at the Burgas Aviation Museum.

Burgas Aviation Museum

An-24 passenger plane

The USSR developed the Tu-154 in the 1960s to compete with the Boeing 727. It was the first Soviet civil airplane design not based on a military model and had a better safety record than the passenger aircraft used previously. The machine in the museum's exhibition was in use from 1981 to 1996, when it landed at Burgas Airport for the last time. The smaller, and less comfortable, An-24 passenger plane, was manufactured in 1976. Its final landing at Burgas was in 1999.

The exhibition includes three fighter aircraft. The USSR developed the MiG-17 after the Korean War, when jet airplanes entered warfare. This model was the first Soviet jet to reach near supersonic speed and had excellent manoeuvrability. In the 1960s, Bulgaria began replacing these with next generation fighter jets, the MiG-21s. For half a century, this was the most widely used fighter by the Bulgarian military. Before flying the real thing, jet pilots would train on the smaller L-29, introduced to Bulgaria in the 1960s.

Burgas Aviation Museum

MiG-21 fighter jet

The exhibition also features aircraft used for less spectacular but still important tasks. Between 1968 and 1986 the An-12 cargo plane brought goods to and from Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, London and Dusseldorf. It is now the only machine of its type preserved in Bulgaria. In 1973-1998, the Mi-2 helicopter was used to monitor pollution in the Bulgarian Black Sea aquatic territory. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, the flimsy An-2 spread fertilisers and pesticides, and the An-14 was used in search and rescue operations, and in agriculture.

The Burgas Aviation Museum collection of airplanes is placed in open air a few steps from the airport's departures terminal.

Burgas Aviation Museum

Tu-154 passenger plane


Burgas Aviation Museum

L-29 training plane


Burgas Aviation Museum

Mi-2 multipurpose helicopter

us4bg-logo-reversal.pngVibrant Communities: Spotlight on Bulgaria's Living Heritage is a series of articles, initiated by Vagabond Magazine, with the generous support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, that aims to provide details and background of places, cultural entities, events, personalities and facts of life that are sometimes difficult to understand for the outsider in the Balkans. The ultimate aim is the preservation of Bulgaria's cultural heritage – including but not limited to archaeological, cultural and ethnic diversity. The statements and opinionsexpressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and its partners

Issue 162 Burgas Communist Bulgaria America for Bulgaria Foundation

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

communism bulgaria political prison belene.jpg
Belene is a backwater of a town on the Bulgarian bank of the River Danube. It is inhabited by less than 8,000 people. Yet, for more than one reason, its name is known to all Bulgarians.

Petrified Wedding in the Rhodope
The ability to spot visual patterns in seemingly chaotic landscapes, preferring false positives to false negatives, has been cruciвal for the survival of the human race.

palace remains
If power and the economy were gravity, the gravitational centre of modern Bulgaria would be Sofia, where the population and the important agencies of the state, economy and culture are located.

ancient and medieval fortress matochina night
Castle-wise, Bulgaria is nothing to compare with Scotland – and many other European countries. There is little reminiscent of Transylvania's menacing fortifications, Bavaria's fairy tale confections, or the Loire Valley's romantic châteaux.

Monument to Father Paisiy in the centre of Bansko, his supposed birthplace
The Revival Period. Any visitor who has been to Bulgaria for more than a couple of days for business and/or pleasure has heard this combination of words, but what does it mean?

stunning stone pyramids bulgaria
We often take landscapes for granted: the mountains and the river valleys we love to look at and explore seem immune to the passage of time, eternal and unchanging, even though we know this is not true.

gods bridge
It is easy to say that the Bulgarian Northwest has been forgotten by God. Economically depressed and depopulated, it has for years consistently topped the EU's least developed regions list.

beautiful dam bulgaria
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, industrial development has taken its toll on communities and landscapes. Polluted air, water and soil, the destruction of nature and a decimated biodiversity are all its consequences.

woodrow willson monument bulgaria sofia
Seen from a US standpoint, the 28th American President is usually being put in the "upper tier" of US leaders despite criticism of his propagation of racial segregation.

urbex bulgaria cold war radio jamming site
If you ever find yourself in the Thracian Plain northeast of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city that holds many enticements to both expats and casual visitors alike, you will probably be bored.

bishops basilica of philippopolis mosaics
Early Christian communities appeared in the Balkans as early as the middle of the 1st century. A couple of centuries later, there were so many followers that dozens of them were martyred for their faith during Roman persecutions.

Bulgarian Black Sea beaches
Anyone who's visited Sunny Beach or the stretch of coast south of Sozopol will be amazed: Bulgaria's Black Sea shore, actually, is not just a concrete jungle dotted with multi-storey hotels, casinos and bars.