HobanaThe Romanian writer and ufologist Ion Hobana was born on January 25, 1931 at Sânnicolaul Mare, Timiş county, Romania. His real name was Aurelian Mantaroşie. He grew up in the city of Bârlad (Romanian Moldavia), where his father, Ion Mantaroşie, was magistrate. Here, in 1949, he graduated at the "Gheorghe Roşca Codreanu" high school. Then he graduated the Faculty of Philology of the Bucharest University, in 1954, with a diploma thesis about science fiction literature, the first of its kind in Romania.

Writer, journalist, editor, literary critic, essayist, translator, theorist of SF literature, Ion Hobana was a member of the Writers Union of Romania, and of Société Européenne de Culture, HG Wells Society, Centre International Jules Verne, Associazione Internazionale per gli Studi sulle Utopie. It has long been secretary of the Writers' Union. In recent years, he led the department of literature for children and youth of Bucharest Writers Association, being also member of the Board of the Writers Union of Romania. For all his work in Science Fiction he was awarded the grand prize of the Polish Ministry of Culture and Arts (1973), the special prize "Golden wings of fantasy" (1980) and the prize “World F” (Brighton, 1984).

In late 2009, when he was in full on a new working book, John Hobana was diagnosed with a relentless disease, the chances of survival being between 6 and 9 months. He worked hard and even though in September 2010 was bedridden, he managed to resist and give ready for printing in November his last work: "Over a hundred thousand years. A History of French Literature scientific imagination from its origins to 1900" (in Romanian; Romanian Academy Press), and he had the satisfaction to see his published book.

Immediately after he was celebrated, on January 25, for the age of 80 years, his condition worsened. He died in the evening of 22 February 2011 in Bucharest at “Colţea” Hospital and was buried on February 25 in the “Izvorul Nou” (New Spring) cemetery in Bucharest, near his wife.

Beyond the merits listed above, Ion Hobana was the most important and best known researcher of the UFO phenomenon in Romania, for which he preferred to use the term "unidentified aerospace phenomena".

With his knowledge and his skills, as well as by the functions that he held, Ion Hobana established good relations with science fiction writers and critics in the West, in a period of time when such relations were rare.

By its own statement, a Belgian friend - Jacques Van Herp - gave him in 1967, two well documented books, about UFOs, of a known American author, former Major in the US Navy aviation. These books helped him to understand that the UFO issue is much more serious than it seems at a superficial examination and that the "ostrich policy" towards it is not wise.

In an interview in 2010, Ion Hobana says there are two types of arguments because of which he takes seriously the study of unidentified aerospace phenomena. “First, there is the testimony of people highly skilled in their fields - military and civilian pilots, astronauts, engineers, scientists - that made extensive comments. The opinions of these people can not be removed with an ironic smile. Secondly, we must relate to physical testimonies that we have: radar recordings that can not be disputed, recordings made with other gauges ... traces on the ground ... The amount of information is huge, especially now, after a number of files were declassified", mainly military ones, in countries like England, France, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand etc. "For example, I believe that the accounts of astronauts, both Russians and Americans, have convinced many people that the phenomenon is real, even if we still have no certainty as to the origin and nature ... there are many theories, but unfortunately, all rely for now, only on suppositions. We do not have evidence to show clearly that these unidentified objects are extraterrestrials ... This is the easiest explanation, but"...

The general interest for UFOs came up in Romania during the “wave” of 1968, which had good media coverage. Among them was the object spotted on August 17 by the pilots of a Tarom airliner, but especially the disc with the "classic" shape of flattened hat, saw by four people in broad daylight on August 18 in Hoia-Baciu forest, next Cluj-Napoca. The technician Emil Barnea managed to photograph the disc, three photos being in excellent condition. Checked several times abroad, these images have been declared authentic. Ion Hobana immediately understood the importance of the cases in 1968, as a result, actively participated in their popularization. The context was favourable because the subject was taboo in other countries of the "socialist camp", but in 1968 the Ceausescu regime wanted to demonstrate that the Romanian authorities' attitude is different.

Continuing in the same direction, Ion Hobana published in 1971 at the Romanian Encyclopaedic Publishing House, the first Romanian book on this subject, entitled “OZN: o sfidare pentru raţiunea umană (UFO: a defiance for human reason). The book was written with the Belgian author Julien Weverbergh. They then published in 1972 in the Netherlands, in two volumes, the work UFOs in Oost en West (UFOs in East and West), of which the second volume is dedicated to the cases in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. This second volume was republished in English in 1974, at the Souvenir Press, London, with the commercial title “UFOs from Behind the Iron Curtain”, later translated into French and Spanish. The impact of the book was special, because it brought one of the earliest proofs that UFOs are not just a legend, specific for the western technological society, but a phenomenon that resounds even in environments so severely controlled as the countries with communist regimes. Because of the opening offered, the volume is appreciated worldwide even today. For instance, Russian ufologist Boris Şurinov, bemoaning the lies that proliferate on the UFO phenomenon in Russia, wrote in 2000 that: „There are only two books in English with chapters where the Russian ufology is presented correctly enough. The first one is  the  English  translation of  the book written  by my friend  Ion Hobana and Julien Weverbergh. Ion Hobana is honest, he respects the Ufological community and readers in general and knows Russian well enough to avoid traps and fantastic stories proliferated by many  journalists and so called ufologists”.

After his first UFO book, Ion Hobana took in 1971 the initiative of organizing, at the Culture House of Students in Bucharest, a "Scientific UFO Circle", which attracted, for several years, a great number of specialists interested in study of the phenomenon, including academics. They conducted field research, have filed reports on reported cases, and organized briefings and meetings with the public.

In an interview from 2010 Hobana said the success of this circle “is hard to believe today. The public meetings, held in the great hall on the ground floor, were attended by hundreds of students and other people. We travelled to other cities, being warmly welcomed everywhere. Interest in the UFO phenomenon then reached its maximum share. It is true that there were not so many books and dedicated TV emissions as after 1990; those interested today prefer these ways of satisfying their curiosity [...] The activity of the Circle was not subject to interference or obstruction of the authorities; they considered probably that it do not harm the ideological imperatives of the time. On the other hand, it was preferable that the students, and the general public, focus their attention on such harmless themes. As for me, I published dozens of articles and participated in radio and television without hindrance”.

In the period from 1972 to 1974, ufologist Călin Turcu was also part of this Circle. He organized in 1977 a nationwide informal group for UFO research, called "Romanian UFO Researchers (RUFOR)". This group published a UFO "samizdat" newsletter called RUFOR (27 numbers, 1979-86). The same group will publish, in the period 1994-1996, the only marketed UFO magazine "RUFOR" (chief editor Peter Leb, from Târgu Mures).

Ion Hobana abandoned for a while his interest in UFOs, focusing to other areas of literature. He returned to the forefront of these activities, publishing in 1993 his next book in the field: Enigme pe cerul istoriei (Mysteries in the sky of history; Abeona Publisher house Bucharest), with a second edition in 1996 and a third edition in 2007. Followed: Misterul Roswell după cincizeci de ani (Roswell mystery after fifty years; Agni Publishing House, Bucharest, 1997), OZN - observatori credibili, relatări incredibile (UFO – credible observers, incredible stories; Polirom, Iaşi, 2001) and Incidentul Roswell. Noi mărturii şi controverse (The Roswell incident. New testimonies and controversy; SIT Science Publishing House, Bucharest, 2008).

Ion Hobana was elected in 1998 president of the newly created Association for the study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (ASFAN), the first non-governmental and non-profit organization in Romania, with legal personality, dedicated exclusively to this objective.

Two of the proposals of Ion Hobana defined the character of the association: the use of the more appropriate term "unidentified aerospace phenomena" instead of "unidentified flying objects", and the scientific character, as much as possible, in the research of this phenomenon. To this end, for the 21 founders, highly skilled persons were selected: mathematicians, astronomers, engineers, specialists in radar, aeronautics, meteorology, imaging, informatics, medicine, as well as and interdisciplinary oriented personalities. Unfortunately, the funding and the time available of the members were always very limited, so the achievements of ASFAN were lower than had been hoped.

Ion Hobana kept in touch with many ufologists worldwide, he participated in international conferences such as those in San Marino and invited several ufologists in Romania. In parallel, he conducted some field research. Among the evidence found of him are the documents about a “wave” of unidentified lights in 1913, in Romania.

The disappearance of Ion Hobana in 2011, was an irreparable loss for the ufological movement in Romania, and in particular for ASFAN. He always will remain a professional, moral, and spiritual benchmark in our work.

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