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
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
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.
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
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
to Casefiles index