Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE UFO BEAUTY CONTEST, part four: Do We Have a Cluj?

So.... several iterations of ogling UFO photos accompanied by hand-wringing and soul-searching. Have I learned anything at all? {You fine folks will have to answer that for yourselves, assuming you've put yourself through the pain of reading the last three posts}. I truly don't know. I'm going to pick a photo which I have paid almost no attention to {despite others trying to get me to do so}, and see if this leads anywhere. 

The case: Cluj, NW Romania, {yep, that's in Transylvania}, August 18, 1968 just early afternoon. 

Four adults of middle age were having a picnic. Two are publicly named, two others begged off being named but names were known to the investigators. One of the women noticed the object first, and called to her boyfriend. He gaped at it momentarily, but had the presence to grapple with his backpack and successfully haul out his camera and fire away for shot number one {above}. As excited as he was it is lucky that he got a fairly sharp image, but it was quite off-center. 

The object dove towards the ground, made a sharp turn and almost hovered. Less excited now, he composed himself and got a well-centered shot {number two}. Then the thing rapidly shot away, giving him time only to take two departing more distant shots {Photo three is one of these; the other photo has been seen by several investigators, but is never printed as the two witnesses wishing anonymity appear in it. It, like our photo numbered three, is more distant a rendering and doesn't add much to the viewing sequence.}

The above graph tells the flight's tale. Imagine the missing fourth photo somewhere along the upward path. The photographer knew the lead UFO investigator through a business connection. He, an employee at something called the Institute of Building Design in Cluj, had met Florin Gheorghita during a work project, where he learned of Gheorghita's interests in UFOs. He, Emil Barnea, waited a few days until Gheorghita returned from a trip, and then took the negatives and the story to him. 

Gheorghita conducted many interviews and did the fieldwork. The photos were analyzed by several different parties. The witnesses passed character references easily, being solid "average" citizens with no previous interests [at all apparently] in UFOs. The photos likewise passed their scrutiny by a professional photographer in town, in his own lab, plus a famous specialist from Bucharest, who was visiting. Still another laboratory was enlisted, and then lighting effects experts from the local university's Institute of Fine Arts. These latter determined that, though difficult to notice casually, the object DID radiate some amount of its own light, and this seemed to increase with its movement. Later, labs in other countries looked at the photos as well, and pronounced them sound as to tampering, shading, and the like.

Because the case seemed to have such a careful field investigation, it was not only published widely but with unusually upbeat commentary. The only negative element at the time was "self-inflicted" by the lead investigators [both Gheorghita and later Ion Hobana], who insisted on trying to compare it to the controversial Rex Heflin photos, just because they felt they looked alike. This is the sort of stupid red herring that often clouds one's responses to a case, and we humans seem weirdly susceptible to such noise in our brainboxes. {Translation: what goes on with one case need have nothing to do with another}.

As I said above: I never paid attention to the case. I have my hang-ups about UFO photos and what you can get out of them, and my own self-inflicted stupidities about whether I like the way they look or not. This, I must remind myself, is MY problem, not the case's.

As fate would have it, I was at CUFOS some years ago when someone there told me that he thought this photo series was the strongest piece of evidence of the reality of non-terrestrial flying technology in the whole pile of UFO literature. ...... I MIGHT be lying about this [unintentionally] as it was many years ago, but the Bells of Memory are ringing loud on this one. I was politely skeptical [I'd just met the guy for the first time], but he saw through that and was "cool" for the rest of the afternoon. My memory says that he told me that Hynek was VERY impressed by this one as well.

OK. Let's give me "credit" for creeping Alzheimers [my 73rd birthday just passed] and admit that my memory has a short in it, but just for fun: how could Hynek be so impressed?

A). There was a group of witnesses, all credible and all UFO-disinterested;
B). There were multiple photos taken;
C). There were multiple field investigators;
D). There were multiple photographic experts and labs.

When Allen would assess "Credibility", he'd have to give these photos very high marks.

When Allen assessed "Strangeness", well.... the strangeness is there, just not as strange as alien entities or sudden right-angle turns [this thing's direction shift was not "instantaneous" in the report]. Strangeness of a subtler nature [a technical device with no observable method of propulsion capable of awkward stops, dramatic directional change, near-hovering, and rapid upward acceleration] should really be strange enough.

But still I'm whining about it. Why didn't it look like that pretty domed disk in that Vancouver photo? You know the one. The one with no witnesses to it at all, no movement descriptions, no... anything.

But it sure is pretty.

Peace friends. Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Hi Dr Swords, I hope you are well. As you briefly mentioned the Heflin Photo's in your post, may I ask your opinion of the case? My bias, due to the shape of the object, wants me to discard it, however I am aware that several NICAP members were impressed. McDonald appeared to remain on the fence, but also took an interest. Thanks, Lee

  2. Hi Lee.

    My eye-bias is the same as yours, but the thing at least maintains a "level/ proper" flight path, so I shrugged. Hartmann of the Colorado Committee took a lot of time with it and was pretty ambivalent when you read all his remarks. Bob Low said that he liked the case because he had talked to Heflin himself and thought him a gruff but straightforward person --- I believe that Heflin's appearance with his big cigar and roughneck look also produces an irrational bias response.

    Recently these photos have been the focus of a concerted attack by a group of people long interested in UFOlogy who have begun to turn excessively debunking [in my opinion --- this regardless of whether they're correct about Heflin or not]. I have had one of them screaming at me [Capital letters and exclamation points] that Heflin and essentially all other well-known photo cases "ARE GOING DOWN!!!!!". .... weird internet experience.

    I don't respond very well to screaming and not at all to claims without current backing, but having said that, I always saw these photos as too mired in controversy to use as part of one's defense of UFO physical reality. Things like them are too socially and emotionally fouled up to waste one's time beating off things like emotional screaming in order to focus on the real and larger issue.

    So, I'm little use when it comes to Heflin. I toss "him" into my graybasket and let others waste their energies on things which in the end don't matter.

  3. i read about these photo in FSR, intriguing and with multiple witnesses. but it looked (to my old eyes) that the ufo seems closer than the background tree, i do not know if this is hoax or not , just the object seem closer than the background , like a thrown small object. for comparison , i never have that feeling in the helfin photo or the trinidad photo (object seem farther away and blend with the background)

    this is really 'unidentified' object for me..



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