Romania-built plane used by Ceausescu going up for auction

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In this handout photo provided by Artmark auction house, a 119-seat “Rombac One-Eleven”, one of nine such passenger jets built in Romania which was used by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu for official trips between 1986 and 1989, is parked at a military base in Otopeni, Romania, May 4, 2021. An airplane used for official trips by Romania’s late communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu will be put up for auction on May 27 with a starting price of 25,000 euros (30,000 USD). (Artmark via AP)

BUCHAREST (AP) — An airplane used for official trips by late Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu will be put up for auction on May 27 with a starting price of 25,000 euros ($30,000), an auction house said Tuesday.

The 119-seat Rombac 1-11 was one of nine such passenger jets built in Romania, under a British license, before 1989. It was used by Ceausescu for official trips between 1986 and 1989, the last three years of his decades-long rule.

Another presidential Rombac 1-11, used by Ion Iliescu, who assumed power after communism fell in 1989, will go up for auction on the same day with the same starting price.

“They’re considered jewels of the Romanian aeronautic industry,” Alina Panico, the public relations manager at the Artmark auction house, told The Associated Press.

Due to the two planes’ “extreme rarity and significance for the technical history of Romania,” they were added this year to the “treasure” category of Romania’s mobile cultural heritage. By law, they can’t leave the country and whoever owns them must maintain them.

“They’re practically little museums. They could bring a lot of tourists … even people from all over the world,” Panico said.

Although made under a license from the British Aircraft Corp., it was considered a significant achievement at the time for the Ceausescu regime, which had planned to produce around 80 of the planes. Only nine were ever built.

Romania was the first communist state, after the Soviet Union and before China, to produce a passenger jet.

The first Rombac was inaugurated in January 1983 on a flight from Bucharest to the western city of Timisoara. The first international flight was two months later to London.

Ceausescu came to power in 1965 and he ruled the country with an iron fist until a 1989 uprising against Romania’s communist regime. Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed on Christmas Day 1989 after a summary trial.

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