It was a smart move to send an A380 to Sofia, with a Bulgarian pilot flying the huge thing home. Whoever came up with this idea at Lufthansa’s PR department in Frankfurt should be promoted right now. For a few thousand liters of kerosene, a big part of a capital, in this case Sofia, saw and heard the big bird, or at least saw it on TV or read about it in a daily.
The visit of the largest passenger plane ever obviously felt like a big step forward to some Bulgarians, similar to the moment when Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004, or the European Union in 2007. The feeling of belonging to the rest of the world, to the West in particular, and to be taken seriously, in this case as a one-time-destination for a huge aircraft, is important to this country.
Bulgaria used the opportunity as well. The “fat bird” was escorted by two MiG fighter jets. The Bulgarian Air Force surely collected some sympathies, by showing appreciation for that visit. Well, the latter is what it seemed like. What they really wanted to show was power, or their military might, which in reality is not that impressive.
So, those MiGs put on a nice and loud show. On the other hand, sending war planes to perform a stunt above a large city is an aspect which could be discussed, since it might scare people. And there is the safety aspect.
But, whatever we think, everybody won yesterday. Lufthansa surely did gain sympathy among the few Bulgarians who can afford to purchase A380 tickets to America or Asia, as well as among spectators and aviation enthusiasts. The Air Force, with its old MiGs, gained sympathy too. And the city feels a little more important, since that machine touched down yesterday.