Before the midnight of 13 to 14 August 1991, an IL-18 airliner, flying from Bucharest to Timişoara, and having on board only a crew of nine people, announced that they started to descend for landing to the Timişoara airport. In the middle of the conversation with the flight control, about position and altitude, at 23:53, the aircraft crashed, hitting a slope of Retezat Mountains (in Southern Carpathians, Romania) at an altitude of less than 1500 meters, 150 km before Timişoara. The aircraft commander was known and appreciated in Romanian civil aviation, with more than 3000 hours on this type of aircraft. That night, in the Retezat Mountains, the weather was excellent. After almost a year of investigations and hearings, the officials concluded that the cause was the total lack of guidance of the crew, after the incorrect calculation of partial times. The error was estimated at 10 minutes, which corresponds to a deviation of 50-60 kilometres from the route set.

By a strange coincidence, the morning after the disaster, before of publication of any news about what happened with the airliner, the newspaper „Zori Noi” of the nearby city of Petroşani, published under the headline "mysterious phenomenon" a small article dedicated to the adventure of a group of seven people, who stated that, in the night of August 4, 1991, they had seen a UFO-like formation, in a place which is at a distance of two kilometres of the crash site.

Subsequently, Ms Constanţa Corpadea, reporter of the newspaper „Adevărul” (one of the most important one in Romania), and then the writer Ms Mihaela Muraru-Mândrea PhD, conducted interviews with two of the group recalled: mountain rescuers Martin Domokos, who has worked in Retezat Mountains thirty years, and his colleague, Mr George Resiga. From the information gathered so, Ion Hobana became convinced that we are dealing with one of the most important UFO cases in history, and he wrote a text, from which we reproduce the main elements.

On August 4, Domokos and Resiga, along with five tourists, had left the hut „Pietrele” (1480 m. altitude), heading towards the mountain rescue base which is near the lake „Bucura” (2040 m.), carrying necessary foods for a few days. They went slowly, because of a girl who had leg problems. At a given moment, on the way toward the saddle Bucura, the highest point of their journey, a group of four tourists had gone before. After nightfall, these tourists saw a bright light in their back. They stopped and waited on those left behind and asked them why signalled so strongly. The others have said they do not signalled. Continuing their way together, and closer to the saddle Bucura, they all saw, at north-west, a quite fast moving light. Believing that a tourist is lost, they began to shout and to shake the flashlights. The unknown light, whose initial trajectory was linear, began to move zigzagging, and its speed increased. It was clear that there was no question of a man. The girls in the group were scared and tried to flee. The light, red coloured, had come closer, up to several tens of meters, and Domokos shouted at it: "Friends, come hither!". The light stationed for a short while, and then turned to “Valea Rea” (translated: "The Bad Valley"), from where it had come.

Resuming their ascent, the group members observed, toward Valea Rea, a bright white light; and then another, pale blue. After several minutes, they reached the saddle Bucura (2206 m. altitude), one of the places with the best visibility in zone. There they saw a plurality of lights: green, blue, turquoise (this was the dominant colour), reddish-yellow and pink. The lights, located in the upper right side of the valley, first took the form of an ovoid, which has turned into a well shaped cylinder. A parallelepiped followed, all sides lit, then a triangle, and a ... huge heart. In the final stage of observation, the seven hikers had the impression that they are in an airplane, flying at night, at low height, above an enchanting city, with lit boulevards, streets, intersections...

George Resiga remembered that, in the backpack with food, he has a powerful binocular. He took it out, and they all looked with it, successively. Each light had the shape of a disc, with a phosphorescent porthole. How many lights, so many portholes.

The mountain rescuers had a radio station and tried to contact with it their colleagues at the rescue base near Lake Bucura, immediately after they noticed the red light. Unfortunately, at that moment, because of terrain configuration they could not establish communication. Reaching the top, they signalled by flashlights those at the base and shouted, urging them to put into operation their own radio station. But when they finally succeeded to call them, to see the miracle, the myriad of lights changed once again their configuration, turning into a kind of airport runway viewed from one side. Then it regained the initial ovoid form, which began to climb, sharply intensifying its brightness, and disappearing in height. Till this moment, the weather was good; everything was clearly visible, allowing them to observe the phenomenon in ideal conditions. But, immediate afterwards, the area was shrouded in a heavy fog. It could not be a shift of mists from the neighbouring valleys, because it was perfectly calm, without any breeze.

Those at the rescue base received the stories of the seven witnesses with disbelief, suspecting a farce or a hallucination. But their emotion was real and the details fit each other without any error. On the other hand, next morning, the radio news announced that a UFO was seen above the Danube, at Iron Gates area. This was the moment they decided to send a brief description of the story to a local newspaper.

The incident of 4 August 1991 is not singular in Retezat Mountains. A friend of Mr. Domokos saw at a distance of about two kilometres in a straight line, an orange light that travelled on the mountain ridge Stânisoara from the hut Pietrele to the saddle Retezat; and Mr Resiga talked with a hiker from Bucharest who, located on the plateau in front of the hut Pietrele, saw a very bright light moving in zigzag.

Ion Hobana wondered if the geometric metamorphoses had a special significance, or whether it was a message. According to him, the loss of orientation of the airline crew could be caused by a UFO. It's hard to believe that the crew begun the descent thinking they are above the airport in Timişoara, when in fact they were over a forest. Where were the lights of the airport? But they could see a very bright and complex unidentified aerial phenomenon, which may have been mistaken with a city ".

Ion Hobana noted that there are other similar stories. For instance, the crew of a cargo plane C-54 flying at February 10, 1951, at 0:55, from Keflavik, Iceland, to the air station Argentia, Newfoundland, observed at an altitude of 3,000 meters, a glimmer of light, and then the lights of a small town. It was impossible, as they were above the ocean, 250 miles offshore. In 1958, the crew of an American cargo aircraft, a Super-Constellation, flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters over the Atlantic Ocean, heading towards Gander, Newfoundland, saw before them, at 25 miles, a pile of bright spots, like the lights of a city.

We can add, that Goethe recounts, in his autobiographical book "Poetry and Truth” that, while travelling through Germany, he saw, at the bottom of an abandoned quarry the lights of a nonexistent city.

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