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Not widely known, the first use of a combat aircraft in Europe was made by two Bulgarian pilots during the Balkan War in 1912. The conflicts propelled the development of military aviation in this beautiful Balkan country and over the years, Bulgaria developed its own aviation industry, which flourished in the late 30s. After the Second World War, it opted to join the Warsaw Pact, leading to massive acquisitions of Soviet hardware to the aviation-loving country. Bulgaria’s love story with military aviation is probably best witnessed by the omnipresent monuments of military aircraft in the country.    

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Ribaritsa is a lovely town in central Bulgaria, where this MiG-21UM enjoys its retirement in a military holiday resort.

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The exit to the now-closed air base of Cheshnegirovo is guarded by one of its former inmates, this beautifully restored MiG-23BN, armament included.

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The town of Korten in south east Bulgaria, proudly displays this MiG-21bis, in air defence configuration that is.

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One of our Aviagraphers could not resist to park the small rental car under this MiG-21bis in Ahmatovo, closely watching the dorsal fin not tearing the roof apart!

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Scenic shot of typical Eastern European church and a MiG-21bis in Ravnetz, a small city near the Black Sea port of Burgas.

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A Su-22M-4 is a large aircraft, as they know in Banya, a small town north of Plovdiv. With trees growing all around the aircraft, nose and tail were kept together in this shot!

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Stara Zagora housed a Mil Mi-24 regiment between 1982 and 2002. As a tribute to those who served there, this good-looking chopper is displayed in the local town park.

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Even in Bulgaria, aircraft do not always receive the tender love and care they deserve. This MiG-19 is parked near a local school in Yastrebino in a sorry condition.

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In the town of Buhovo, north east of Sofia, someone knows how to display a MiG-19 in spectacular fashion.

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The city of Omurtag has a special relation with the Bulgarian air force, no less than three aircraft are displayed in various flying modes at the highway exit!

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Just a neat, well-maintained MiG-15UTI, it can be found in the lovely mountain town of Golyam Izvor.

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Many Delfins have been dispersed to towns and villages across Bulgaria. The town of Mihaltsi put theirs in the park separating the lanes of the main road, for maximum attention.

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Ekzarh Yosif (what is in a name?) received a Samolet L-29 as well, and added two cars of the same age. Curiously, the entire display in the town centre is being guarded by a camel!

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Art and aircraft from the socialist era often get along very well, like in the rural town of Krushovene.

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A very picturesque spot is Kolovyata Springs, near the town of Aksakovo, north west of Varna. This MiG-17F looks like it made a perfect wheels up landing here.

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A local institute in the town of Vetovo proudly displays this MiG-15bis on its hill top location.

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A derelict industrial area in Cherven Bryag is the place where this MiG-17F is surprisingly well kept, it really stands out amidst the rubbish…

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The Bulgarian Air Force used its own inventory numbers for military equipment. Seen on MiG-17F Bort 125 at Cherven Bryag, this triangle apparently reveals it to be Aircraft No.115 of Type 7207. On later types, the first two digits show the aircraft type and, the bottom four coincide with the last four of the manufacturer's serial number.

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Suhindol honours the glory of the Bulgarian army with a large monument in town, of which this MiG-17F is the centerpiece. Fruits of the Bulgarian aviation industry are extreme rare. This Lazarov Laz-7 is on display at the air force headquarters in Sofia and suitable for nocturnal viewing…

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This MiG-21UM in Ribaritsa looks quite the part, as not to say, it blends nicely with the lush green environment!