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The Disappearance of Frederick Valentich

Australian newspaper detailing the event

Frederick Valentich was an Australian pilot who disappeared on October 21, 1978. His disappearance is surrounded by mystery, controversy and skepticism. The reason for this is that his disappearance seems to be connected to an unidentified flying object that Valentich himself claimed was ‘playing games’ with him in the minutes before radio control lost all contact with him. He was twenty-years-old at the time.

On October 21, 1978, at 6:19 p.m., Frederick Valentich left Melbourne, Australia to begin a 125-mile training flight to King’s Island. It was only Valentich’s second solo night flight. He was flying a single engine Cessna 182L. At a little after 7:06 p.m., Frederick Valentich made radio contact with air traffic controllers in Melbourne to inquire if there were any other aircraft known to be flying in the area. The answer from Melbourne was no, an answer that was confirmed again during the odd communication that followed.

From Frederick Valentich’s six-minute exchange with air traffic control, we can piece together some information about what it is that he saw, claimed he saw or thought he saw in the sky over Bass Strait that night. After receiving information that he was supposed to be the only thing in the sky at his location, Valentich told controllers in Melbourne that something was flying near him. When asked if he could confirm that it was an aircraft, he said that he could not, a statement that he repeated several times during the exchange. He described the object as having at least four lights and one green light, he said it was elongated (many sources say cigar-shaped, but Valentich made no such statement.) and “all shiny on the outside.”

At one point, Frederick Valentich said that he was unable to tell what it was because of the speed at which it was traveling. However, the unidentified flying object supposedly went out of sight and then approached him from different angles several times, so he was able to ascertain the above information, but nothing more. Near the end of the exchange between Melbourne air traffic controllers and Frederick Valentich, Frederick complained that his engine was coughing. Not long after, radio communication was lost.

Frederick Valentich

Frederick Valentich

Interestingly, some sources claim that the exchange went on after this and that Valentich said his Cessna was engulfed in a green light and he was burning. I have found no proof of this in my research. Another claim is that the end of the transmission contained a loud noise like metal scraping on metal. This claim seems more valid and may very well be truth. It is hard to know because audio of the exchange is difficult to find. The last words that air traffic controllers officially heard Frederick Valentich speak were “It is not an aircraft.” Extensive searches for the pilot were conducted. No sign of Frederick or the Cessna was ever seen again.

Interestingly, there appear to have been numerous UFO and/or strange light sightings in the King’s Island and Bass Strait area on the night that Frederick Valentich disappeared. There also may have been sightings both in the weeks before and after the event. The number of reported UFO sightings in the area range anywhere between 11 and 50, depending on the source. Some sources even claim that all of the sightings were reported after Frederick Valentich’s disappearance was made public. At this point, the information has become so convoluted that it would be nearly impossible to come up with a definite number of sightings and verify each of them.

One interesting fact that is worth mentioning here is that Frederick Valentich had studied UFOs in the past and had a particular interest in them. Does this mean that he made it all up? Of course not. Does it mean that aliens targeted him because of his interest in UFOs? That is highly unlikely. Frederick Valentich may very well have encountered a UFO on his flight that fateful Saturday evening. However, whether said unidentified flying object had anything to do with his disappearance is impossible to ascertain. The most likely of scenarios is that he encountered engine trouble (with or without the help of a UFO) and crashed into the ocean, where the plane, and possibly his body, remains to this day.

Several theories have been set forth regarding the disappearance of Frederick Valentich. All of them are rooted in some truths, though all are speculations, due to the fact that we cannot verify what happened to Valentich that night. One theory is that Frederick was playing an elaborate practical joke, yet his father later said that Valentich would have taken such a thing very seriously. Another theory is that Valentich committed suicide, but wanted to go out ‘with a bang.’ There is nothing to suggest this, apart from the fact that he disappeared. Another is that he was either killed or taken by aliens. There is no way to prove or disprove that suggestion. Lastly, there is a theory that Frederick Valentich’s engine troubles came from ‘interference’ from the unidentified flying object, whether intentional or not. This is yet another theory that cannot be proven, but it is supported by the fact that Valentich reported engine troubles during his encounter with it. However, this is hardly evidence of the truth of the theory. The fact is that we may never know and theories may simply get wilder and wilder given time.

Sources
The Frederick Valentich Accident, retrieved 5/12/10, ufologie.net/htm/valentich.htm
Australian Pilot Frederick Valentich Disappears, retrieved 5/12/10, ufocasebook.com/australianpilot.html

About Shelly Barclay

Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter. Shelly was a professional cook for 10 years and still has a passion for food. She cooks and writes about cooking nearly every day. She produces a wide variety of content, on top of her niches. Shelly is a stepmother, a former military, current veteran wife, sister of four and aunt of seven (so far).

One comment

  1. The transcript of Valentich’s final communication with flight control:

    19:06:14 DSJ [Valentich]: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?

    FS [Flight Services; Robey]: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known traffic.

    DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I am, seems to be a large aircraft below five thousand.

    19:06:44 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, What type of aircraft is it?

    DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I cannot affirm, it is four bright, and it seems to me like landing lights.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

    19:07:31 DSJ: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet, the aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, and it is a large aircraft, confirmed?

    DSJ: Er-unknown, due to the speed it’s travelling, is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known aircraft in the vicinity.

    19:08:18 DSJ: Melbourne, it’s approaching now from due east towards me.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

    19:08:41 DSJ: (open microphone for two seconds.)

    19:08:48 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, it seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game, he’s flying over me two, three times at speeds I could not identify.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what is your actual level?

    DSJ: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet and you confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?

    DSJ: Affirmative.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, stand by.

    19:09:27 DSJ: Melbourne, Delta Sierra Juliet, it’s not an aircraft it is (open microphone for two seconds).

    19:09:42 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, can you describe the – er – aircraft?

    DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, as it’s flying past it’s a long shape (open microphone for three seconds) cannot identify more than it has such speed (open microphone for three seconds). It’s before me right now Melbourne.

    19:10 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger and how large would the – er – object be?

    19:10:19 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne, it seems like it’s chasing me.[20] 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.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet

    19:10:46 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet (open microphone for three seconds) It’s just vanished.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

    19:11:00 DSJ: Melbourne, would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got? Is it a military aircraft?

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, Confirm the – er ~ aircraft just vanished.

    DSJ: Say again.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, is the aircraft still with you?

    DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet; it’s (open microphone for two seconds) now approaching from the south-west.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet

    19:11:50 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, the engine is rough-idling. I’ve got it set at twenty three twenty-four and the thing is (coughing).

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what are your intentions?

    DSJ: My intentions are – ah – to go to King Island – ah – Melbourne. That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again (open microphone for two seconds). It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.

    FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

    19:12:28 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne (open microphone for seventeen seconds).

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