The Frederick Valentich UFO Incident

The Frederick Valentich UFO incident, sometimes referred to as the Frederick Valentich alien abduction/disappearance, took place on October 21, 1978, and allegedly involved a close encounter between a Cessna 182L piloted by Valentich and a UFO.

The day started normal enough, Valentich departing Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne, at 18:19 local time, headed southwest, purportedly reaching Cape Otway on the Australian coast at 19:00 the first leg of his journey. It was on the second leg from the cape across Bass Strait to King Island that things apparently began to go wrong.

At 19:06 Valentich contacted Steve Robey, a Melbourne Flight Service Officer, for information on another aircraft flying at his altitude, below 5000 feet (1524 meters), and was told their was no known aircraft at that level. Valentich replied that not only was there an aircraft but that it had passed 1000 feet (300 meters) overhead a number of times, traveling at a high rate of speed and apparently playing with him.

Robey asked Valentich to confirm his altitude which the pilot did, Robey then asked for an estimate of the aircraft’s size, to which Valentich, seemingly not hearing, replied the aircraft had a shiny metallic sheen, a green light and was hovering above him. This was followed by a short pause then “It’s just vanished.” Then another pause before “now approaching from the southwest.”

At 19:11:52 Valentich reported that his engine was idling rough and when questioned at as to his intentions replied he was proceeding to King Island followed by “Ah Melbourne that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.” This conversation was apparently followed by seventeen seconds of strange “metallic, scraping sounds,” then nothing.

Search and rescue was alerted and when Valentich failed to arrive at King Island a sea and air search was undertaken which continued until 25 October with no results. A Department of Transport investigation though unable to determine a cause (no trace of Valentich or the Cessna was ever found) presumed that Valentich had died in the incident.

As for the public, a number of individuals came forward with stories of “moving green lights in the sky.” At least one, tying the green lights to Valentich’s plane, described an encounter with the lights following the Cessna as it dived in avoidance.

A number of possible explanations for the incident have been offered over the years:

According to Guido Valentich, the missing pilot’s father, his son possessed an extensive background in ufology (not necessarily a factor but the "how to" of a hoax would certainly have been within his capabilities, especially when one takes into account that the aircraft was never tracked by radar anywhere near Cape Otway though a light plane was reported to have landed nearby).

He became disoriented, crashing after flying upside down and seeing his own lights reflected in the water. [1]

He committed an elaborately staged suicide.

He was struck by lightening.

He encountered and was brought down by drug smugglers.

He encountered an alien craft and was abducted by extraterrestrials.

[1] Possible but not probable, the Cessna 182 has a gravity feed fuel system making extended inverted flight extremely unlikely.

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