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UFOs Around the World: Romania

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be conducting interviews with leading UFO researchers from countries around the world in an effort to paint a picture of global UFOlogy today.

This week, our global UFO trek takes us to Romania, and to Dr. Dan D. Farcas. Born in 1940 in Reşiţa, Romania, Farcas holds an MSc in mathematics and physics and a Ph.D. in mathematics and computers. He was formerly a project manager for several countrywide information systems, mainly in health and science management. In 1993 he was elected as a full member of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Romania. Since 2011 he has been the President of the Association for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (ASFAN) in Romania. He has published more than 25 books in Romania (on IT, philosophy of science, Extraterrestrials, UFOs etc.), and more than 1,200 articles. He has also participated in numerous radio and TV debates.

Dan D. Farcas, Ph.D.

RG: Who have been the defining figures in Romanian UFOlogy over the past 70 years (for better or for worse), and why?

DF: A major personality in Romanian ufology was Ion Hobana (1931-2011). Writer, journalist, editor, literary critic, essayist, translator, theorist of science fiction literature. Hobana established good relations with science fiction writers and critics in the West at a period in time when such relations were rare and difficult. Around 1967, he began understand that the UFO issue is much more serious than it seems. A UFO “wave” in 1968 had good media coverage in Romania and had sparked a general interest in UFOs. In 1971, Ion Hobana took the initiative of organising a “Scientific UFO Circle” at the Culture House of University Students, in Bucharest, which ran for several years and attracted a great number of young people as well as specialists. Later that same year, Hobana and the Belgian author Julien Weverbergh published the book OZN: o Sfidare Pentru Raţiunea Umană (UFO: A Defiance for Human Reason). It was the first book by a Romanian writer about UFOs. The second Romanian UFO book was published in 1973 by the engineer Florin Gheorghiţă, who was deeply involved in the investigation of the 1968 cases. Ion Hobana with Julien Weverbergh also published UFO books abroad, among them UFOs from Behind the Iron Curtain (1974), first in English and later translated into French and Spanish.

Pioneering Romanian UFO researcher, Ion Hobana.

Another Romanian passionately involved in the investigation of the unexplained occurrences was Călin Turcu. In 1977 he organized an informal group called RUFOR (“Romanian UFO Researchers”) as a means of information exchange. Between 1979 and 1986, this group published 27 issues of a “samizdat” magazine with the same name: RUFOR. Neither the organization nor the publication were officially allowed, but they were tolerated by the authorities as they were not considered as subversive. Several years later, from 1994-1996, in a completely changed political environment, members of the same group would publish the only widely marketed Romanian UFO magazine, also with the title “RUFOR”. It ran for 21 months. Since then, there was no printed UFO periodical in Romania.

Throughout the 1980s, dozens of UFO books were published in Romania. Among the Romanian authors were: Florin Gheorghiţă, Dan D. Farcaş, Doru Davidovici (fighter pilot 1945-1989), Dan Apostol and György Mandics. The number of Romanian UFO books increased dramatically after 1990. Many were written by Călin Turcu, Florin Gheorghiță, Adrian Pătruţ, general Emil Străinu and some of those above. But most of the titles in this period were translations. Călin Turcu’s books are the most complete inventory of UFO cases in Romania, starting around the year 1500. He also organized a library with over 500 UFO books, which was donated by his family to the Association ASFAN.

After 1990, Ion Hobana returned to UFOs, publishing several important books. In 1998, he became the president of the ASFAN, dedicated to studying the UFO phenomenon, a post held until his death in 2011.

RG: What do you consider to be the most compelling Romanian UFO incident on record, and why?

DF: It is difficult to choose. But certainly one of the most interesting cases (which I helped to investigate) was a close encounter which occured on the night of July 8-9, 1996, at around 12.30am in a village named Cerţeşti (pronounced Tchertzeshty) in the South of the Moldavian Region of Romania. Police sergeant Marian Mancu and Maricel Rusu, a voluntary guard, were patrolling in the centre of the village when they separated for a short time. When they saw some colored lights on the road, they headed towards them from different directions, both thinking it was a police car. The sergeant, getting closer, realised that it was an object hovering half meter above the road, flashing with blue and red lights and making a humming sound. A small, very strange person was moving around outside of it. The horrified guard hid under a small bridge over a ditch. He whispered to his colleague: “Mister Marian, it’s the Devil!”

After less than two minutes the UFO rose vertically. At that moment its lights became much brighter and the streetlights went out. When the object reached a height of around 30 meters, it changed direction and turned north-west.

Rural Romania

Rusu later reported that he saw three small ugly human-like creatures moving around. They were about one meter high, had a big head, elongated behind, with no hair. Their face was white and they had big eyes and big pointed ears. Gray scales like those of a fish covered their body. Their belly was relatively big and limp. The arms were not thicker than two fingers. None of the witnesses remembered the nose, the mouth or any footwear. The witnesses could not tell for sure if the creatures were walking or floating above the ground, but they felt the latter was more likely. Rusu said they moved “as if they were drunk.”

Both witnesses agreed that the object had the form of a flat hat, 5-6 meters across and 2-2.5 meters high and was hovering half a meter above the ground. Around the edge it had a continuous girdle of light, like a rainbow. At the bottom of the object was a bright white light. None of the witnesses saw any doors, portholes or other marks of any kind, and could not explain where the little people descended from and re-entered.

In the following days, sergeant Mancu felt sick and powerless and he was of the opinion that he was suffering from some kind of radiation poisoning. Rusu had repeated nightmares. He told us: “I was dreaming for several nights about how I was hiding myself in the ditch and then I woke up frightened mainly because the beings were so ugly.” I questioned both of them about the possibility of a loss of memory or of a missing time period during the encounter. None of them had any such impression.

The physical traces were weak. A huge sweet cherry tree nearby had around 15% of its leaves affected as if by an extreme heat, and, allegedly, after the encounter, many leaves and broken limbs were spread on the road at the site.

The witnesses to this event are very credible. The police sergeant Marian Mancu (30 years old at the time) was, for a while, a veterinary technician, before graduating at a police school. He was healthy and sane and was married with two children. The majority of the village population, including the village mayor, considered him a serious person, not likely to lies or hoax. The watchman Maricel Rusu (then 41 years old) had never heard anything before about the UFO phenomenon. He had no recorded psychiatric disorders and he had served in the army as sapper. The villagers could not remember any lies or tall tales from him in the past. It is unlikely the witnesses could invent the very peculiar details, and to make them public in such a highly natural and convincing manner. It also is unlikely that it could be a delusion staged by someone else. Also, we did not discover anybody with any kind of motivation to invent such a story. Additionally, several villagers noticed a blackout and other strange phenomena on the night of the UFO encounter.

But there are many other interesting UFO encounters in Romania. George Pârvu, Ph.D., who had a remarkable career in geology and authored more than 15 books, had a remarkable UFO encounter with some of his schoolmates in his native village 50 km north-east of Bucharest. This was 1939; he was 9 years old at the time. Pârvu and his friends saw a strange egg shaped UFO and two of its occupants. More recently, in the north of Romania, there was a case of alleged alien abduction involving with two witnesses and the sighting of a 2.5 meters-high fairy woman–a feared character, well known in the area. We have also several repeated abduction cases, one starting from cradle, as well as many interesting military cases.

All cases presented in this interview, along many others, are detailed in my book, UFOs over Romania (Flying Disk Press, UK, 2016).

RG: What is the Romanian government’s official stance on UFOs? When was the last time it issued a statement on the subject?

DF: Following a wave of observations in 1968, Communist-controlled state media exhibited a favorable attitude towards the UFO issue. This was because, in other countries of the “socialist camp,” the UFO subject was quite taboo, and the regime of president Ceausescu wanted to show that the Romanian authorities had a different, more open and progressive attitude.

After 1990, in a completely changed environment, a huge number of books about the UFO phenomenon were translated and published. From the year 2000 until now, public interest in UFOs has diminished considerably. I am not aware of any official statement by the Romanian Government about UFOs during this period.

RG: Does the Romanian Ministry of National Defence have an official UFO investigations unit?

DF: I have no knowledge of the existence of such a unit. Military cases have come to light mostly from retired officers. Among them, we examined the case of commander Mihai Barbutiu, who in 1966 was ordered to fire a volley to force a UFO to land in Timișoara; or the case of a huge V-shaped UFO witnessed by many pilots at a military airport near Constanța in 1989; or the case of a huge, red, spherical UFO in 1992 near Buzău, which disturbed and halted an exercise involving three military helicopters, as well as several other strange encounters. All of the witnesses made reports and signed documents prohibiting them from divulging what they saw.

The Romanian Ministry of National Defence building in Bucharest.

RG: Has the Romanian government shown more or less transparency on the UFO subject than the US government?

DF: In 2014, in preparation of a UFO Conference, our association, ASFAN, officially asked several institutions to provide access to the data on unidentified aerial phenomena occurred in Romanian airspace. The request was made under the law No 544/2001 on free access to information of public interest. The Romanian Aeronautical Authority, Department of Security, directed us to the Centre for Analysis and Aviation Security, which gave no reply. We have not received an answer, either from CN Bucharest Airports or from Romanian Administration of Air Traffic Services (ROMATSA).

We also made enquiries with the Ministry of Defence, which responded that: “The Ministry of Defence has no data and no information on unidentified aerial phenomena” but “for future cooperation” a senior officer was nominated as a contact person. ASFAN members had direct contacts with this person, who showed interest in further cooperation. But, after a while, we received some excuses saying that the international situation, especially that of the Ukraine, put other priorities before military aviation.

The attempt by ASFAN was not isolated. Some tabloids made earlier attempts to obtain access to military data about UFOs. The response was that the defence structures of Romania have no resources even for much more important issues than UFOs.

The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania.

RG: Does Romania have a national UFO investigations organisation today, and how many smaller Romanian UFO groups are you aware of?

DF: The Association for the Study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (ASFAN) is a nongovernmental and nonprofit organization which obtained juridical status in 1998. It has been the main UFO oriented organization ever since. Its first chairman was Ion Hobana, and I have held the chairman position since Hobana’s death. For the 21 founding members (demanded by the law at that point in time), highly skilled individuals were selected: mathematicians, astronomers, engineers, specialists in radar, aeronautics, meteorology, photo-imaging, medicine, as well as interdisciplinary oriented personalities.

Now, ASFAN has around 10 active members who are involved mainly in receiving and examining UFO sightings and the administration of our website. An ASFAN member participated in the editorial board of the “European Journal of UFO and Abduction Studies” (2000-2003). They had, in 2012, a collaboration for the National Geographic Channel documentary “UFOs in Europe: The Untold Stories.”

The ASFAN website: www.asfanufo.ro

For three years (2000-2003) ASFAN organised public conferences on a monthly basis in central halls in Bucharest. A more ambitious, one-day UFO Conference was organised in May 2014. Some ASFAN members were invited to appear on all of the main Romanian TV channels and radio stations for debates on current UFO events and related issues. Some ASFAN members have or had permanent UFO columns in Romanian popular science magazines. Unfortunately, the funding and the time available for the members was always very limited, so the achievements of ASFAN were lower than expected, and, in time, most of members became inactive with no one to take their place.

Apart from ASFAN, an informal but rather active organization on the internet is the Romanian UFO network – RUFON. I have no knowledge of other active UFO organizations in Romania. Since 1995, there is also no periodical about the UFO phenomenon in our country, only columns in publications of popular science or the paranormal.

The regions of Romania.

RG: What are the most active regions of Romania for UFO sighting reports (hotspots)?

DF: Judging by the list of known cases, we can not emphasise special UFO areas in Romania. There are observations from all regions. There have also been investigators in all corners of the country to examine and highlight these observations.

RG: Have you personally had any UFO sightings? 

DF: I have some strange early childhood memories. Later I saw some unusual lights on the sky, but I am not sure they were UFOs. On the other hand, I have seen and filmed several false UFOs.

RG: How long have you been involved in the UFO subject; roughly how many cases have you personally investigated; and what conclusions, if any, have you drawn about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena?

DF: I graduated in mathematics and physics in 1960, and I obtained later a Ph.D. in mathematics and computers. Also, I was always interested in astronomy. Therefore, I have a longstanding interest in the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence. I came close to the UFO phenomenon only after 1980, understanding that statistics on observations made by competent persons are a serious argument that the phenomenon is real.

I directly investigated only several dozen cases, some of them quite complex, but I spent a lot of time comparing them with the plenty of similar cases in the literature worldwide, and also I feel it is my duty to popularize the phenomenon among the readers in Romania. After so many years, my personal opinion is that, above us, a powerful “control system” manifests itself, which could be a hypercivilization, possibly even one billion years old, monitoring us for many millions of years, intervening extremely discreetly in our evolution.

RG: How can Romanian UFOlogy better itself?

DF: Two main aims of ASFAN are to persuade more young people to join us, which in the current pragmatic context will be difficult, and we should be able to get better funding to allow us to better investigate cases and to bring them to wider attention.

The fact that we have tried in the last few years to improve the collection and recording of cases is reflected by an increase in the number of investigated observations as follows: 2015 (6), 2016 (15), 2017 (23), 2018, 10 months (28). But there is still room for improvement.

To learn more about the history of UFOs in Romania, read Dr. Dan D. Farcas’ book, UFOs Over Romania.

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Robbie Graham has lectured around the world on the UFO subject and has been interviewed for the BBC, Coast to Coast AM, Canal+ TV, Channel 4, and Vanity Fair, among many others. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, New Statesman, Filmfax, and Fortean Times. He holds first class degrees in Film, Television and Radio Studies (BA hons) and Cinema Studies (MA) from Staffordshire University and the University of Bristol respectively. He is the author of Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood’s UFO Movies (White Crow Books, 2015) and the editor of UFOs: Reframing the Debate (White Crow Books, 2017). Visit robbiegraham.uk
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