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Frederick Valentich (1978)

Rights to all articles are held by the authors and permission to reprint must be sought from UFO Research Queensland.

Frederick Valentich, 20, was a keen flyer. On October 21st 1978 he decided to take his Cessna from Melbourne and fly over Bass Strait to King Island.

He set off in the early evening just as it was becoming dark, and was over half way into his journey. He had around 30 minutes left before he would be over land again, and was in constant contact with Steve Robey, the duty officer at Melbourne Air Traffic Control.

At 19:06 Valentich called Robey and asked “Is there any traffic in my area below 5,000 feet?” Robey replied that there was no other craft expected in that area.

Valentich replied “Four bright….seems to me like landing lights….just passed over me. At least a 1000 feet above.”. Valentich became more concerned and reported: “It’s approaching now from due east, towards me….It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game…He’s flying over me….It’s not an aircraft, it’s…..It’s a long shape….cannot identify…the thing is just orbiting on top of me….It’s got a green light and sort of metallic-like…It’s all shiny on the outside”.

Valentich then radioed that his engine was not working properly and informed Melbourne that he would try and make it to King Island. He then suddenly cried out: “Ah, Melbourne, that strange craft is hovering on top of me again…It’s hovering and it’s not an aircraft!”. There was then a cry, followed by a strange metallic grinding noise, then nothing. Despite several days of land, air, and sea search, no trace of Valentich or his Cessna was ever found.

Again various theories were put forward ranging from Valentich plotting his own disappearance and faking a close encounter to that of a fateful meeting with drug smugglers. Even to this day no one is sure what happened to Frederick Valentich.

This report is one of the most significant Australian UFO encounters on record. So what did just happen on that clear October evening? The flight was meant to be routine for experienced pilot Valentich and his Cessna. But to this day, no wreckage has ever been found despite an extensive search over the Bass Straight area. Extensive UFO activity was reported just days before the incident, with UFO reports coming from all over King Island. At one stage a large light hovered to the west of Maastuyker Island for nearly two hours, and power in the lighthouse keepers residence failed for that time. Moving lights and daylight sightings were widely reported as far south as Hobart, with the strange flap of sightings reaching its peak on the day that Valentich disappeared.

On that day, October 21 1978, something unusual was seen in the Victorian skies. Documented interviews with unrelated people from locations up to 150kms apart told similar stories of round and starfish-shaped objects, and two silver cigar-shaped objects were seen moving silently through the sky. Roy Manifold, of Melbourne, photographed an object hurtling in a blur of speed and mist out of the ocean near Cape Otway lighthouse. The object appears in the last six pictures, which were taken at twenty second intervals. In the last picture, the cloud is already nine degrees into the frame. This means it would have sped into the air at up to 200 mph, which is impossible for a cloud on a calm day.

And what of that mysterious metallic sound that was recorded, by Melbourne, and which has never been satisfactorily explained even by the NASA scientists who analysed the tape? Below is a copy of the transcript between Valentich and Melbourne Air Control (although the full transcript has never been released):

Valentich: Melbourne, this is DSJ [the code for Valentich’s plane]. Is there any known traffic below five thousand feet?
Melbourne: No known traffic
V: It, seems to be a large aircraft below five thousand.
M: What type of aircraft is it?
V: I cannot confirm. It is four bright, it seems to me like, landing lights … the aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.
M: Roger, and it is a large aircraft, confirm.
V: Er, unknown due to speed it’s travelling. Is there any Air Force aircraft in the vicinity?
M: No known aircraft in the vicinity.
V: It’s approaching now from due east towards me … it seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game. He’s flying over me two three times at speeds I can not identify.
M: Roger. What is your actual level?
V: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero.
M: Confirm you cannot identify the aircraft.
V: Affirmative.
M: Roger. Standby.
V: It’s not an aircraft it is…
M: Can you describe the, er, aircraft?
V: As it’s flying past it’s a long shape … cannot identify more than that it has such speed … before me right now Melbourne
M: Roger, and how large would the, er, object be?
V: It seems like it’s stationary. What I’m doing right now is orbiting and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also. It’s got a green light and sort of metallic, like it’s all shiny on the outside. It’s just vanished, Would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got, is it a type of military aircraft?
M: Confirm, the, er, aircraft just vanished.
V: Say again.
M: Is the aircraft still with you?
V: It’s, ah, now, now approaching from the south-west. The engine Is rough idling I’ve got it set at twenty-three twenty-four and the thing is coughing.
M: Roger. What are your intentions?
V: My intentions are, ah, to go to King Island, ah, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again .. it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.
Loud Metallic sound is heard
*communication ends*

From the edited version a few points are made clear: the UFO passed over the Cessna at an estimated 1,000 feet. The unknown craft was climbing, hovering and demonstrating aerial acrobatics far beyond our own technology. Valentich never mentioned the object was cigar-shaped, only that it was long. Only when the UFO appeared overhead did he mention the green light. It is certain that all these worrying thoughts were in the minds of the crew, traffic controllers, TV crew and other observers aboard the Argosy flight over Cook Strait, New Zealand, when a similar object was filmed performing similar manoeuvres.

Whatever the truth may be, the fact remains that Frederick Valentich vanished in mysterious circumstances, possibly UFO related, and that the mystery lingers to this day.

Categories: Casefiles

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