As a young child, I was fascinated by the mysterious and unexplained. From stories of UFO sightings and strange beings to unknown beasts, ghosts, live animals raining from the skies and uncanny coincidences, I couldn’t read enough. So, when the story of the disappearance of Frederick Valentich, possibly related to an encounter with a UFO while flying solo over Bass Strait, came to light, I naturally took a very keen interest in the case.
This event has to be one of a handful of Australia’s most intriguing UFO encounters. Not only does the case involve an eyewitness reporting the encounter to trained aerial observers in real time, but there’s also, tragically, the fact that the witness and his aircraft vanished without a trace…never to be seen or heard from again.
The disappearance of 21 year old Frederick Valentich over Bass Strait on 21 October 1978, naturally received a lot of media coverage. A widespread search of the area in which he was thought to be at the time radio contact was lost found no trace of Valentich or the Cessna 180L light aircraft in which he was flying.
There’s no real need to rehash the details of Valentich’s final night again as it has been thoroughly reported and researched and written about over the years. A Google search of ‘Frederick Valentich’ returns over 52,000 results. But the most intriguing aspect of the case is his final radio contact with air traffic control in Melbourne.
It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft
From the radio transcript:
Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. Can you describe the…er—aircraft?
Delta Sierra Juliet… as it’s flying past it’s a long shape’ //open microphone for three seconds// (cannot) identify more than that. It has such speed //open microphone for three seconds//. It is before me right now Melbourne.’
Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. It seems like it’s (stationary) or (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.
Interestingly, in a report by Richard Haines and Paul Norman in The Scientific Journal of Exploration…
“…Reports were obtained from 20 eyewitnesses in this region, describing an erratically moving green light in the sky at that same time of evening as Valentich’s flight.”
Back to Valentich’s transmission…
Delta Sierra Juliet. It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game.’—He’s flying over me two—three times at a time at speeds I could not identify.’
The final transmission made by Valentich…
My intentions are—ah… to go to King Island—Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again //open micro phone for two seconds// it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.
Delta Sierra Juliet.
Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne //open microphone for 17 seconds// [A very strange pulsed noise is also audible during this transmission.] Note: also described as “metallic, scraping sounds.”
Exactly what happened to Frederick Valentich on that night will never be known. Was it all an elaborate hoax for insurance money or to start a new life? Well, he was only 21 at the time.
Did he lose his bearings, fly around in circles upside down and misidentify a lighthouse for the strange craft he reported? Possibly!
Or, did he encounter something unknown flying in close proximity that terrified him and ultimately led him to crash into the wild waters of Bass Strait?
To find out more…