Category Archives: Aviation

Bulgarian Mig-29s escort Lufthansa Airbus A380 arriving in Sofia for the first time

Bulgarian Air Force Fulcrums greeted the very first visit of an Airbus A380 to Sofia.

On Oct. 16, a Lufthansa Airbus A380 landed for the very first time in Sofia.

Piloted by the only Bulgarian A380 Lufthansa pilot, Senior First Officer Mario Bakalov, the largest passenger aircraft of the world took off from Frankfurt as a special flight carrying a delegation of politicians, customers and media to the Bulgarian capital to introduce the Lufthansa A380 to customers and the general public in the country and to promote long-haul flights to the U.S. and Asia.


Noteworthy, during its flight across the Bulgarian airspace the Airbus A380 was met by three Bulgarian Air Force Mig-29s (including a two-seater photo-ship). In this post you can find some stunning images taken by the BAF while escorting the giant two-deck airliner inbound to Sofia.





Here’s a short clip showing the three Mig-29s as seen from inside the A380.

Image credit: Bulgarian Air Force / Ognyan Stefanov


Check out these stunning videos of the iconic F-104 Starfighter flying for the first time in 33 years in Norway

A civilian-owned CF-104D Starfighter flew for its first time in 33 years in Norway. And here are some of the coolest clips filmed during the historical “first flight.”

On Sept. 28, CF-104D Starfighter “637” / LN-STF in the colors of the Royal Norwegian Air Force flew again in Bodø, Norway, 33 years after its first flight.

Chased by a dual seater F-16B of the RNoAF, the aircraft, brought back to airworthy conditions in 13 years by the Norwegian Foreningen Starfighterens Venner (Friends of the Starfighter Association) flew for about 50 minutes becoming the first “Zipper” (or “Missile with a man in it” in accordance to one of the several nicknames the legendary plane has had during its long career) to fly in Europe in more than 11 years: the last flight of an F-104 in the Old Continent took place in Italy, on Jul. 27, 2005, when the Italian Air Force retired its last aircraft (a two-seater TF-104, the same type of aircraft this Author had the opportunity to fly in November 2000) after more than 40 years of service.

Eskil Amdal, a Norwegian test pilot, flew the Starfighter “637” during its newest “first flight” that was broadcast live on Facebook.

The following video shows the takeoff of the chase F-16B that performed an airborne pickup of the F-104 and the later approach and landing:

Here’s an interesting clip with footage from inside the cockpit:

The following footage shows the CF-104D from the backseat of the F-16B (taken by Helge Andreassen):

There are rumors that the Norwegian association will some day bring the F-104 back to airshows around Europe. However it looks like there are no plans (and possibly clearances) at the moment to fly this magnificient aircraft outside of Norway.


H/T to Giulio Cristante, Bjørnar Bolsøy and all the readers who sent us links and comments!



Take a look at these photographs of the rare NASA DC-8 Airborne Laboratory visiting Lajes during global-scale sampling mission

A rare beauty flew into Lajes airfield, Azores.

Taking part in the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom-1) to study the impact of human-produced air pollution on greenhouse gases and on chemically reactive gases in the atmosphere, the NASA /Armstrong Flight Research Center / Earth Science DC8-72 msn 46082/458 flew into Lajes air base, Terceira island, Azores, on Aug. 17.

Lajes is a strategic airfield located in the Atlantic Ocean frequently used as a stopover airfield by military (as well as NASA) aircraft crossing the Pond.

ATom deploys an extensive gas and aerosol payload on the NASA DC-8 aircraft for systematic, global-scale sampling of the atmosphere, profiling continuously from 0.2 to 12 km altitude.


According to the NASA website, the DC-8’s sampling activities occur in each of 4 seasons over a 4-year period covering the whole globe: NASA 817 flew to Lajes from Ascension Island and before that the aircraft flew from New Zealand all the way across the Pacific and Indian oceans.


With the Universidade dos Açores (Azores University Meteo department) as a prominent research partner, the classic aircraft was involved in several scientific local flights to better understand atlantic meteorological conditions as well as air particle analysis, before leaving bound for Greenland on Aug. 20.

Below you can see the last part of the route followed by NASA 817 (screenshot from Flightradar24.)


Here are some images sent us by our friends at the APS (Associação Portugal Spotters) showing the DC-8 arriving at Lajes in the afternoon on Aug. 17.

Image credit: APS – Associação Portugal Spotters


Watch a DC-10 skirt the mountain tops to fight wildfires in Southern California

Some skills are needed to fly a “wide body” like that!

The DC-10 Air Tanker is a standard McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliner that was converted to carry up to 12,000 US gallons (45,000 liters) of water or fire retardant in an exterior belly-mounted tank.

Three such kind of firefighting bombers are operated by the 10 Tanker Air Carrier, under callsign Tanker 910, 911 and 912.

The DC10 Air Tankers (unofficially dubbed “Supertankers”) are based at the Airtanker base San Bernardino International Airport, to the east of Los Angeles, that is also home to the U.S. Forest Service Tanker, but they are frequently deployed to airports across the Southern California, Nevada and Arizona to fight wildfires during the fire season.

The following video shows Tanker 911 fly at very low altitude over the mountain tops to drop retardant on the Sage Fire, in the Santa Clarita valley, California.

Pretty cool maneuvering, isn’t it?

Top image: screenshot from CBSLA




This Airbus A340-500 is Italy’s new Air Force One

Here’s I-TALY, the new A340 of the Italian Air Force VIP fleet.

The above photograph was taken on Jun. 30, as the new Italian Air Force Airbus A340 was performing ILS approaches to runway 16L at Rome-Fiumicino airport.

The aircraft is a A340-500 airliner that was leased from Etihad Airways for State Flights, replacing the ageing A319CJ in service with the 31° Stormo (Wing) based at Ciampino whose task is bringing the Italian Prime Minister, the Head of State and other members of the Government in every place of the world with its specialized fleet of executive aircraft.

The aircraft does not carry the typical military registration (MM – Matricola Militare) but a rather appropriate civilian “I-TALY.”

The wide-body arrived in Italy from Abu Dhabi on Feb. 1, 2016, flying as EY8569.

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli