|Birth: ||1958, Australia|
|Death: ||Oct. 21, 1978|
The Valentich disappearance refers to the unexplained disappearance on 21 October 1978 of 20-year-old Frederick Valentich while piloting a Cessna 182L light aircraft over Bass Strait in Australia. He intended to land at King Island to pick up three or four friends and return to Moorabbin Airport.
During the 127-mile (235 km) flight, Valentich advised Melbourne air traffic control that he was being accompanied by an aircraft about 1,000 feet (300 m) above him. He described some unusual actions and features of the aircraft, saying that his engine had begun running roughly, and finally reported that the "strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It is hovering and it's not an aircraft."
Valentich and his aircraft were never found, and an Australian Department of Transport investigation concluded that the reason for the disappearance could not be determined.
Belated reports of a UFO sighting in Australia on the night of the disappearance led Ken Williams, a spokesman for the Department of Transport, to tell Associated Press that "it's funny all these people ringing up with UFO reports well after Valentich's disappearance."
A pilot with a Class Four instrument rating and 150 hours of flight experience, Valentich filed a flight plan from Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne, to King Island in Bass Strait on 21 October 1978. Visibility was good and winds were light. He was flying a Cessna 182-L, with a cruising speed of around 256 km/h (160 mph). He departed Moorabbin at 18:19 local time, contacted the Melbourne Flight Service Unit to inform them of his presence, and reported reaching Cape Otway at 19:00.
At 19:06, Valentich asked Melbourne Flight Service Officer Steve Robey for information on other aircraft at his altitude (below 5000 ft, 1524 m) and was told there was no known traffic at that level. Valentich said he could see a large unknown aircraft which appeared to be illuminated by four bright landing lights. He was unable to confirm its type, but said it had passed about 1,000 feet (300 m) overhead and was moving at high speed. Valentich then reported that the aircraft was approaching him from the east and said the other pilot might be purposely toying with him.
At 19:09 Robey asked Valentich to confirm his altitude and that he was unable to identify the aircraft. Valentich confirmed his altitude and began to describe the aircraft, saying that it was "long", but that it was traveling too fast for him to describe it in more detail. Valentich stopped transmitting for about 30 seconds, during which time Robey asked for an estimate of the aircraft's size. Valentich replied that the aircraft was "orbiting" above him and that it had a shiny metal surface and a green light on it. This was followed by 28 seconds silence before Valentich reported that the aircraft had vanished. There was a further 25-second break in communications before Valentich reported that it was now approaching from the southwest. Twenty-nine seconds later, at 19:12:09 Valentich reported that he was experiencing engine problems and was going to proceed to King Island. There was brief silence until he said "it is hovering and it's not an aircraft". This was followed by 17 seconds of unidentified noise, described as being "metallic, scraping sounds", then all contact was lost.
A Search and Rescue alert was given at 19:12. Valentich failed to arrive at King Island by 19:33, and a sea and air search was undertaken, and two RAAF P-3 Orion aircraft searched over a seven-day period. Search efforts continued until 25 October 1978. Analysis of a fuel slick found roughly near where Valentich had last radioed Robey proved that it was not aviation fuel, and no trace of the aircraft was found. The aircraft was equipped with four life jackets and an emergency radio beacon, and was designed to stay afloat for several minutes.
A two-week long Department of Transport (DOT) investigation into Valentich's disappearance was unable to determine the cause, but that it was "presumed fatal" for Valentich. A report published on 27 April 1982, summarised the radio conversations on the evening of 21 October 1978 between Valentich and Robey.
After news of Valentich's disappearance became public, a number of individuals reported witnessing unusual activity in the area. Some people claimed to have seen "an erratically moving green light in the sky" and in one instance witnesses, located about 2 km west of Apollo Bay, Victoria, stated that they saw a green light trailing or shadowing Valentich's plane, and that he was in a steep dive at the time. Ufologists said these accounts were significant as most were recorded several years prior to the 1982 release of transcripts in which Valentich had described the object above him as having a green light.
According to an Associated Press report, Guido Valentich, the father of the missing pilot, said "he hoped his son had been taken by a UFO and had not crashed. 'The fact that they have found no trace of him presents a possibility that UFOs could have been there.'"; Guido Valentich also told the AP that "his son used to study UFOs as a hobby using information he had obtained from the air force. He was not the kind of person who would make up stories. Everything had to be very correct and positive for him.'"
Several explanations have been put forward for Valentich's disappearance:
The possibility remains that Valentich staged his own disappearance: even taking into account a trip of between 30 and 45 minutes to Cape Otway, the aircraft still had enough fuel to fly 800 kilometres; despite ideal conditions, at no time was the aircraft plotted on radar, casting doubts as to whether it was ever near Cape Otway; and Melbourne Police received reports of a light aircraft making a mysterious landing not far from Cape Otway at the same time as Valentich's disappearance.
Another proposed explanation is that Valentich became disoriented and was flying upside down. What he thought he saw, if this were the case, would be his own aircraft's lights reflected in the water. He would then have crashed into the water. This was ruled out by aviation authorities, as the Cessna 182 has a high wing with a gravity feed fuel system, making prolonged inverted flight impossible in this model.
In 2000 a private investigation of the incident concluded that Valentich had become disoriented and experienced engine and radio problems that caused him to crash into the sea. It further suggested that the Bass Strait's strong prevailing currents might have carried his relatively light aircraft a long distance before it finally sank.
Unconventional explanations for Valentich's disappearance include speculation by ufologists that the unexplained aircraft with the green light that he reported was an extraterrestrial vehicle, which in turn either abducted Valentich or caused the destruction of his plane in some fashion.
Speculation that a UFO was involved has been fueled by a number of factors, including Valentich's last transmission, in which he described the aircraft shadowing him as "hovering" and "not an aircraft", the unexplained sounds that were heard at the end of his transmission, and a rash of UFO reports from the area.
The following is a transcript of the exchanges between Valentich and air traffic control, from the first three pages of the Australian Department of Transport report:
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?
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. 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 (open microphone for one second) it's not an aircraft.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.
19:12:28 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne (open microphone for seventeen seconds).
Video - UFO captures plane part one and Video - UFO captures plane part two
Video - The Valentich Disappearance
Audio - Did Frederick Valentich die because of spatial disorientation?
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: Frederick Valentich disappeared while flying over the Bass Strait in Australia
Created by: graver
Record added: May 16, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 90220097