Varna Airport

Hydro-port Peinerdzhik, 1917 Not many people know that Varna is associated not only with the sea and its history, but also with the formation of Bulgarian aviation. Back in 1894 Haralampi Dzhamdzhiev was the first person in Bulgaria to experiment with an aerodynamic apparatus that was constructed in Varna district model smithy. It was also in Varna that "Towards the Skies" - the first Bulgarian aviation magazine was published at the end of 1911. In 1915 the first hydroplanes were brought and the following year Peinerdzhika area (present-day Chaika) was chosen as the construction-site for two sheds for the first hydro-port in the country. Treaty of Neuilly provisions of September 1920 required all hydroplanes to be destroyed, but two years later another one was built. During WWII they were used as German base and after signing of the Treaty of Warsaw hydro-ports and hydroplanes were completely neglected and helicopters Mi-4 succeeded "the Sharks" of Chaika airport.

Junkers Ju-52 On 24 December 1919 the first mail-plane from Sofia to Varna landed here, but this airline was functional only for a month. It was not until 1947 that a permanent airline from Varna to Sofia started to operate. The first Junkers 52 aircraft landed on Tihina Airport on 2nd August. The passengers on this flight were reported to be just four, and the total flights until the end of the year did not outnumber six with a total of 23 passengers on board. Tihina Airport itself was located in the outskirts of Asparukhovo district, to the west of the present-day Asparukhovo Bridge, in the place of the canal. It occupied an area of approximately 1000-15000 decares and its facilities included an air-shed and a workshop. Flight directions were quite primitive at that time: stones were holding down to the runway an enormous canvas in the form of the letter T (for Tihina). At daytime a person with signaling flags was guiding planes before their taking off and landing down and at nights people carrying wind-resisting lanterns were marking the "landing-strip".

Obviously, Tihina was not the right kind of airport for Varna. Thus in 1946 a committee was elected to choose a site for a new one. In December the committee came up with their decision: the site chosen for the purpose was located several kilometers away to the west of the city close to the village of Aksakovo. 1000 decares of land were expropriated for the project realization and the terrain was duly flattened and reinforced. People must have been quite enthusiastic about that new facility for hundreds of volunteers had been working together with the constructors.

The old building of the airport On 9th May 1948 the new airport of Varna was officially opened for exploitation. The first aircraft from Sofia with its official guests on board landed on the aerodrome at 10:40 AM. The flight took 2 hours and a half. As was the case with Tihina airport, the aircraft used for that occasion was of the same make, namely Junkers 52. A couple of wooden cabins were appropriated for administrative needs, technical maintenance and storehouses. The number of the whole personnel was only 4 people - the head of the department, a wireless operator and two mechanics. Construction works continued throughout the following years. In 1961 a new concrete runway 2500m in length and 24-26 cm in thickness was ready for exploitation. A light-signaling system was also constructed there thus making night-flights much easier. In 1967 the stopping place was widened and 4 new tracks were built. Meanwhile radiolocation and radionavigation equipment was installed. The first survey locator AR1 was imported from England. After 1996 TRAC VIEW-220 multi-radar flight control system was introduced to the airport facilities.

Varna airport today On 25th September 1972 a new airport reception building started functioning. It was designed by Transproject Co., Sofia and consisted of three wings: Administrative and Technical Department; Domestic Lines and International Lines, as well as a big parking lot outside the building. The second storey of Domestic Lines wing hosts a 130-seat restaurant, whereas duty free shops and currency shops can be found at the international terminal. The bigger airplanes and the heavy traffic led to the necessity of thickening the runway path in 1974. The following year central heating facilities, fire precaution depot and a pumping station were completed.

Varna airport Taking into consideration the considerable flow of passengers and load, as well as the greater expectations for the role of Varna airport in the overall development of the region, a new general plan has been promoted for the complex over the last couple of years. It provides for modernization of both the international terminal and the Domestic Lines. Major changes, however, will affect transportation and heavy load handling - lengthening of the existing runway; construction of a new landing strip for heavy load aircraft; heavy load truck parking lot; storehouses; loading terminal. All those measures will allow for the simultaneous handling of nine airplanes. The new runway will be connected to the western side of the present one and will be oriented in such a direction so that airplanes will fly over the industrial areas of Varna. For the time being aircraft flight routes pass over tensely populated residential districts, which could be hazardous in case of accidents while landing or taking off.

An 124 Russlan, Il 86, MD 11 and Boeing 747 belonging to the sheikh of Kuwait are among the biggest airplanes that have landed on Varna Airport.

Technical Data:

Distance from the city centre     7.5 km
Altitude 70 m
Runway length 2500 m
Runway width 55 m
Aprons for all types of aircraft 32

Radio navigation and communication systems:

* En-route primary surveillance radar ATCR-22, range over 350 km.
* En-route monopulse secondary radar MSSR.
* Terminal area primary radar ATCR-33, range over 125 km.
* Terminal area secondary radar SIR-7.
* Multiradar tracking system TRAC VIEW-220.
* Dopler VHF omnidirectional radio range/distance measuring equipment, etc.
* Air meteorological facilities.
* Lighting.

Special thanks to Esin Halid for the translation of this page.

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