A day before the scheduled media day on 27 April at Graf Ignatievo Air Base in central Bulgaria, a MiG-29UTI jet trainer crashed into a small river northwest of the airfield.
As a result the media day was cancelled at the last possible moment and flights for the Bulgarian participants of “Thracian Star 2012” suspended. Both pilots safely ejected before the crash and the Bulgarian defense minister Anyu Angelov was quick to point out that because of “their quick reflexes and adequate reaction, [the pilots] managed to avoid populated areas and prevented death or destruction as a result of the MiG 29 crash.” The pilots sustained minor back injuries not uncommon during bail-out with an ejection seat.
The shot above was taken on 27 April, the day after the crash, and while the Bulgarian planes stayed on the ground during that day and indeed until last Sunday, 29 April, USAF F-16C kept on with the exercise, performing dozens of starts and landings.
After av first MoD announcement that the Bulgarian fighter pilots will not take part in “Thracian Star” until the cause for the crash is known, the commander of the Bulgarian Air Force Major General Konstantin Popov said on Saturday that the Bulgarian Su-25 will fly again immediately and the MiG-29 and -21 will resume training flights on Tuesday, 1 May.