Three introductory photos Valentin Grogore
Text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
Design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

Knowing that in 2018 (the Centenary Year of the Great Romanian Union)
I intended to dedicate a project to the flying unionist hero Aurel Vlaicu,
the president of SARM, Valentin Grigore,
sent me the pictures from above,
representing the three heavenly bodies
which are reproduced on the Romanian coat of arms,
in states of grace:
the (haloed) Sun,
Venus (accompanied by the star Spica of Virgo)
and the (crowned) Moon.


In 2018-07-16 I saw the Moon over an old Romanian airplane
in a Bucharestian park.

This vision made me return in time,
in 2016-02-25/26,
when I tried to reconstitute by bus
the imaginary unionist flight across the Carpathians from 1913,
between the former Romanian Kingdom
and Transylvania (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time),
in which one of the major pioneers
of the Romanian Great Union
lost his life.

I speak about Aurel Vlaicu,
who was born in 1882 in a Transylvanian village,
close to the antique capital of the Dacian King Decebalus,

He studied enginery in Budapest and Munich,
worked a little at the Ford car factory,
and then he moved to the Kingdom of Romania.

Helped by the Romanian army and King Carol I,
he built here his airplanes (the first of them in 1910),
marked by a few original elements.

In 1910 August he made a demonstration of flight
in his own plane,
together with Prince George Valentin Bibescu
(the 20th official pilot in the world,
founder of the Romanian Aeronautic Federation
and future president of the International Federation of Aeronautics)
in a Farman
and Michel Mola
(a French pilot living in the Romanian Kingdom,
who made a world record for Romania in the same year
crossing Bucharest by plane)
in a Bleriot.

In 1910 September he became the first constructor-pilot in the world
who transported by plane a military message
between two (Romanian) towns.

In 1912 September
he participated at the International Flight Week in Aspern-Vienna,
where he became the best airplane constructor-pilot
among 42 competitors from 7 empires,
winning one of the competitions
(defending the famous French pilot Rolland Garros)
and obtaining a few other positions on the podium

And more than all, in between 1910 and 1913
he made demonstrations of flight in the provinces
inhabited by Romanian majorities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire:
Transylvania (even at the Field of Liberty near Blaj,
the traditional place of Romanian manifestations since the 1848 Revolution).
Crisana, Banat and Bucovina,
enrapturing them, uplifting their national feelings
and making them dream of the Great Union.

Unfortunately, his airplane crashed in 1913 at the foot of the Carpathians,
but his broken moral bridge was completed after 5 years
by the Romanian people,
able to accomplish, through many sacrifices,
the ideal of the Romanian Great Union.

Today Aurel Vlaicu’s memory
is honored in many and various ways,
including a Romanian banknote.

In 2018-02-25 I started from north Bucharest,
catching a timid sun before being covered by clouds.

Then, from the road, I caught more images
(a little deformed by the speed of the bus
and shadowed by the gross window and a thin fog)
including Ploiesti (where the first petrol refinery in the world was founded in 1867),
the Prahova Valley and the Bucegi Massif.

In Transylvania
I stopped somewhere between Rasnov and Brasov.

During that night I had the feeling that
Sirius, Jupiter and the Crowned Moon
also commemorated Aurel Vlaicu.

In 2018-02-26 I returned to Bucharest
seeing from the distance
the Rasnov Citadel (founded in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights)
in Transylvania
and the Monument of Aurel Vlaicu (made on the place of his collapse)
in Wallachia.

Then, on the road,
I followed a mild sunset,
and I ended this commemoration with a picture
which I took three years later (2018-10-16).

For Romanians, Aurel Vlaicu’s
Unfinished unionist flight
Connected the earth to the sky.
Now… the way is… all right!



© 2019 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)