April 10, 2010
Many questions are raised around the means of transport of polish president Lech Kaczyński who died today in a plane crash together with 95 people. As a Bulgarian journalist, I am as familiar with those Tu-154, as with my first car, a GDR-made Wartburg. The only difference is that I got rid of my smelly Wartburg as soon as I could, in the early 90s, while some of our the East European leaders still use those Tupolev.
Crazy me. I must have taken the Bulgarian presidential plane Tu-154 (call-sign BTZ) at least one hundred times. The call-sign is important, because it reveals that the plane was already in use under Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov. For some reason, those letters (Bravo, Tango, Zulu) remained unchanged. Their initial meaning was “Bravo Todor Zhivkov”.
In January 2008, BTZ, same model as the one in use by the late Polish President, was carrying the Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov and his delegation on route to Mexico, for an official visit. The plane landed for refueling in the Azores, as scheduled, but then had to return back, because the landing gear did not retract. So the plane ejected all the fuel, took a risky landing back on the island, and the Mexico visit was canceled.
I read now that the plane is scrapped and will be plunged in shallow waters in the Black Sea, as an attraction for divers.Georgi Gotev