On the 13th of December, the festivities for Santa Lucia were underway. The city had been already been preparing for the event for several days and Piazza Bra had been invaded by a host of market stalls offering toys, puppets, sweets and clothes. Tradition has it that the patron saint of light brings presents for all the children who the next morning and throughout the rest of the day, preoccupied with their new gifts, willingly fast in order to continue to concentrate on having fun. A happy anniversary, then, for the guardian saint of eyesight, but who unfortunately that December 13th of 1995 was cast into darkness by a sad turn of events that is impossible to forget. It is bitterly cold and a few kilometres outside the city the snow is falling copiously, It is supper time and the festive atmosphere within the family is chilled by an item on the television news: “An Antonov 24 plane leaving Villafranca’s Catullo airport at Verona destined for Tomisoara in Romania crashed soon after take off: the plane caught fire and all forty one passengers aboard, along with eight members of the crew, have been killed.” A routine flight usually made by the jet BAC 1-11, a plane in good condition and capable of carrying a hundred passengers, but at the last moment, perhaps to save the company money, it was substituted with an Antonov 24 from Banat Air, smaller and older, not to mention the fact that it landed on the runway at Catullo four hours late. It was a twin-engine turbo-prop of Soviet make, able to transport fifty-five people with a maximum take-off and landing weight of twenty-two tons, but a full twenty-eight years old. Too old to still be flying: prolonging the life of this aeroplane, in fact, meant going beyond the flight hours prescribed by the construction firm with the consequence that the airframe, exposed too long to atmospheric conditions, had undergone chemical and material modifications, with accompanying risk of damage. The right engine of the Antonov 24, in fact, had already shown signs of malfunction during its landing at Verona and the passenger on board arriving from Timisoara confirmed that they heard alarming bangs coming from that quarter. During the hour the plane was waiting, the ground crew had asked the chief pilot if he wanted them to de-ice the plane to get ride of the ice that was gradually beginning to form, but he declined because the cost of the operation, Lire 250,000; since the price of a ticket on the Antonov was half of that charged for a regular flight, they had to save money. The Romanian technicians refuelled the plane and carried out basic maintenance, after which another mechanic and another flight assistant boarded the plan. The incident occurred during take-off as the plane undertook the usual right turn required by noise abatement rules designed to avoid the built up area of Villafranca; at 19.54 hours, the control tower cleared the plane for take-off, but two minutes later, in spite of repeated attempts, they were unable to get a reply from the plane. The twin-engine plane lost control immediately after making the right turn and thirteen hundred metres from the end of the runway came down in the middle of an orchard next to the house of a farmer, who raised the alarm. Immediately, attempts were made to put out the fire but for the forty one passenger still buckled into their seats and for the eight crew members there was no chance of survival: among the passengers there were twenty eight Italians, seven Romanians, three Slavs, two Swiss and a Dutchman, almost all professional people carrying on their businesses across national borders, providing work for Romanians in the process and, in exchange, getting workers at low cost. Romania is a country in which the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths does not exist, as in the majority of other Slavic countries, and as a result, I have been unable to find out the hour of birth of the people who were involved so I have drawn up their birth charts, basing them on 12 o’clock, without taking into account the residence of the houses. I did however manage to discover the hour of birth of all those who were born in Italy. The thing which stood out as the chart began to emerge was the presence in most cases of a grouping of planets, both in the birth charts of passengers and in those of the crew, which followed exactly the same arrangement, that is a preponderance of planets arranged in a 120 degree semicircle with a planet in front, forming the handle, thanks to the aspect that it formed with them. In a minority of charts, however, I noticed the presence of a grouping of conjunctions, arranged across the whole arc of the Zodiac and in this particular group were the birth charts of those people whose trip had a completely different aim to that of the others: those charts, in fact, belonged to a Romanian housewife who was going to spend Christmas with her family, an orchestra director and a ballerina. Taking the birth charts of the commander, co-pilot and chief mechanic, for example, that is the three people most crucial to the operation of the flight, we find the presence of a group of planets and furthermore we see that these accumulations are aligned and in opposition between themselves and with the planetary groupings in Capricorn, which was transiting on 13/12/95 at 20.02 hours, when the tragedy happened. It is most interesting to observe how the Sun of each one of them is precisely aligned an in opposition to those of the other and how, of the slow planets in transit, only Neptune is precisely aligned with and in opposition to the Sun of these three people.
When the plane came down on December 13th, 1995 at 20:02 hours (1), there was a planetary grouping in Capricorn formed by Mercury at three degrees, Mars at ten degrees, Venus at twenty degrees, Neptune at twenty four degrees and Uranus at twenty eight degrees, while Jupiter and the Sun were to be found respectively at twenty five and twenty one degrees in Sagittarius; as many as seven planets in the space of thirty seven degrees.
In the birth chart of Commander Mircea (8), to be precise, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and the Sun were situated in Libra, while Neptune was to be found at two degrees in Scorpio and in conjunction with the Sun: Uranus, positioned in Leo, made the sextile to Jupiter and to Mars and trigon to the conjunction Venus-Saturn in Sagittarius. In fact, Mircea had taken his first licence as pilot in 1989 and the second in 1993, with a total of nearly 4,000 flight hours to his credit so he was, from a professional point of view, without exaggeration, a real expert. He was often asked to fly older and sometime risky planes exactly because of his experience and skill and, indeed, Neptune in conjunction with the Sun, meant the commander was quick to react to any change in the situation and ready to use his intuition and imagination, gifts that sit well with the aspect of Saturn in trigon with Uranus an in sextile with Mars: astrological characteristics that allowed him to be exact, decisive, cool-headed, calculating and brave, that is all the ingredients that come to the fore in moments of greatest need. Before analysing the transits of Commander Mirceae, it should be emphasised that the passage of the slow planets exert their influence over a period of around two years during which they prepare the events of the personal life, while the transits of the swift planets are those that indicate moments of indecision.
TRANSITS of 13/12/1995 20:02 (GMT In the birth chart of Commander Mirceae (9). On that fateful day, it is notable that Neptune was transiting at twenty four degrees and 03 before Capricorn and precisely formed quadrature with the birth Sun of the commander, thus depriving him of his awareness and plunging him instead into anxiety and insecurity, bringing on a certain mental confusion, accentuated at that terrible moment due to the tension over severe delays, the protests of passengers and the presence of the director of Business Jet who was flying to Timisoara to renew contracts for thrice-weekly flights to and from Romania. Mars was transiting at ten degrees of Capricorn and formed a quincunx with Uranus and a semi-sextile with Saturn. The first aspect shows an overload that could have caused impatience and aggression over the delay in the plane’s arrival at Villafranca which forced Commander Mircea to act hurriedly in the attempt to get back on schedule and, perhaps, for this reason, he underestimated the seriousness of the technical problems. The second aspect, Mars in semi-sextile with Saturn, represents on the other hand the courage and the determination of the commander in wanting to go ahead with the flight, even though he may have realised that there could be technical failures. The commander further showed certainty and determination when he refused the de-icing operation, a rejection that should be considered as positive, analysing the position of Mercury on that day, transiting at two degrees of Capricorn and forming a sextile with Neptune and a trigon with Pluto. Mental lucidity was present in his concrete actions: the decision not to accept the de-icing of the wings, another element that has caused controversy, was due to the sextile of Mercury with Neptune. In fact, the planet represents liquid within its symbolism, interpreted both as a solvent as well as liquid money. A solvent is used for the operation of de-icing and the reason the operation was not carried out was to make savings (liquid money). The refusal of the commander is due to the awareness that every morning, at the Romanian airport of Timisoara, all departing planes were de-iced and probably his professional experience eased his mind, convincing him that such a refusal would not represent any risk to the flight; this is also the opinion of a Romanian engineer who, two months after the tragedy, stated: “The de-icing of the wings wasn’t indispensable because if there had been a great deal of ice on the wings the plane could never have even taken off and would have been stuck on the runway because it would not have had the necessary thrust (the weight that the wings can support) and, once in flight, the electrical resistors would have taken effect and got rid of the ice. Don’t forget that the Antonov was built to fly in Siberia.” The trigon that transiting Mercury made with birth Pluto helped the commander to resolve the problem intuitively and with cunning; in fact, with respect to the list of the “loading schedule” either he didn’t undertake the operation in order to bring forward the time of departure or he was concerned that, if some irregularity was discovered, it would only have created further problems and delays: Venus, transiting at twenty degrees of Capricorn and in quadrature with the Sun and birth Mercury, produced annoying contradictions for Mirceae all day, involving health, communication and news.
In Marin’s birth chart (32), on the other hand, the planetary grouping is situated between the last degrees of Cancer and the first degrees of Leo. It is immediately clear that the Sun, at twenty degrees of Cancer, is tightly bound with Mercury which is at twenty three degrees and forty two before the same sign, and therefore the two planets are perfectly aligned with the commander’s Sun, which is at twenty three degrees and 04 before Libra. Jupiter and Pluto, in the birth chart of the co-pilot, Marin, are positioned in Leo, respectively at four and six degrees, and in this case too we find Uranus very prominent which, at seven degrees of Gemini, receives the sextile from Jupiter and Pluto, a spurious trigon with Neptune in Virgo and a semi-sextile with Mars in Taurus. Uranus, beyond stimulating passion and technical ability, spurs the individual to being decisive and active in their work and, indeed, Marin’s career, as a professional pilot of the first grade, was long and boasted seven thousand flight hours’ experience as an officer. The trigger that had motivated him to attain his professional targets derives from the need to establish beyond doubt his own virility, his power, first to himself and then to others, exactly because of the profound castration complex that Mars aligned with Mars and Jupiter inculcated within him, and beyond the dynamic and aggressive aspect, this denied him the qualities of Cancer which would have encouraged him to build a family life in which he could begin to relax at a slower rhythm, savouring the love and comfort of home. After a partnership of six years with a woman who had two children from a previous marriage, Marin had got married in the first days of March, 1995, only to leave her a widow a few months later. Notwithstanding the fact that he was fourteen years older than the commander, on the evening of the disaster he took on the role of co-pilot, probably because his medical certificate had expired a fortnight earlier.
Let us now examine the transits of the co-pilot during the evening of the incident (32). We can see that Pluto, transiting at the first degree of Sagittarius, forms sextile with Neptune and trigon with Jupiter, making Marin more confident and at peace with himself and, further, bestowing a good and advantageous economic situation. Neptune, however, was transiting at twenty four degrees and 03 before Capricorn, forming exact opposition with the Sun and with Mercury, causing a lack of the lucidity required to avoid emotionality and anxiety, creating, as a result, possible difficulties in helping the commander or throwing light on what was about to happen. The transit of Uranus formed trigon with Neptune, making it easier for Marin to take decisions in relation to the family, and in relation to his financial situation, and further, Jupiter, in this case forming quincunx with Mercury and the Sun, offered help in resolving questions to do with the family and children, but also indicated difficulties of communication and of a technical nature, beyond diminishing Marin’s role through the lack of a medical visit. Mars in transit made quincunx with Uranus, transmitting all the impatience due to the exigencies of the moment and the aspect of Venus, in opposition to Mercury, caused the co-pilot difficulties in perception, distorted interpretations and the absence of information. Mercury formed quincunx with Jupiter reinforcing the technical and communication problems, and so Venus in transit was in opposition to Mercury, and this aspect again emphasised what has been said above and signalled some emotional disturbance. The Moon was in conjunction with Venus (perhaps a last, affectionate thought about his wife), trigon with Mars (exasperation caused by something unexpected) and aligned with Uranus (the ending of life): the Sun, then, was in opposition to Saturn (command) and quincunx with Mercury (difficulty in maintaining clarity of thought). The common transits of the two pilots were, therefore, provided by Neptune which acted negatively, and by the Sun of both, by Mars, which was transiting in quincunx to Uranus, by Venus, in opposition to Mercury, and by the Moon aligned with Uranus.
translated by Nick Skidmore