The Valentich Abduction/Disappearance : 40th Anniversary


The time has flown by. The Fred Valentich story is of course a ‘classic’ Australian UFO case from the 1970s and this October marks the 40th anniversary. What makes it different from most UFO accounts is that the witness, after reporting seeing a UFO whilst piloting a light aircraft, was never seen again. A missing persons mystery wrapped up within a UFO case.

There are already some older threads on this case of course.

OzWeatherman’s : What Happened to Frederick Valentich? Possibly the scariest UFO case ever from 2008 is a comprehensive look back at the case a decade ago.

Kandinsky’s highly informative : Valentich Case Files Finally Released is also recommended reading. It focuses on the release of the investigation files by the Australian Authorities in 2012.

Officially the reason for Valentich’s disappearance remains a mystery. But before we explore the various theories here is a brief overview of the case.

The Pilot

Fredrich Valentich was a 20 year old relatively inexperienced Australian pilot. He had some 150 flying hours under his belt and was qualified to fly at night. But only in good weather conditions with clear visibility. Valentich had twice applied to join the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). However he was rejected on both occasions due to inadequate educational qualifications. Attempts to gain a commercial pilot’s licence had also seen him fail. He had also been twice warned for flying into a cloud deliberately and once for flying into a restricted zone by Australian Authorities.

The Incident

On October 21st 1978 at 6:19pm, Valentich departed from Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia in a rented Cessna 182L light aircraft on a 235km (146 mile) flight. His intended destination was King Island, between the Australian mainland and Tasmania in the Bass Strait.

At 7:06pm he reported his position as Cape Otway to Melbourne Air Traffic Control and reported “a large aircraft below 5000” (feet).

Air Traffic Controller Steve Robey responded to Valentich. Not knowing that he would be last person to ever speak to him. Valentich reported that an unidentified aircraft was flying above his Cessna 182 aircraft in dangerously close proximity to him.

Below is an edited version of the conversation.” DSJ” was Valentich’s call sign.

A full transcript of the radio conversation is available : here


DSJ Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?

FS Delta Sierra Juliet, no known traffic.

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


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. ….


DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne, 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. …

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

DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet; it’s…now approaching from the south-west.


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)..pause… It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.

FS Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne .

(An unexplained metallic sound could then be heard for around 17 seconds.)

Those were the last words of Fred Valentich followed by the odd metallic sounds before all contact was lost.

Short (2 min) video outlining the case

By 07:33pm local time, with no sign of Valentich, a full air and sea rescue effort was initiated. The search was eventually called off four days later with divers unable to locate any wreckage from the aircraft or the pilot.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Report

Thanks to the work of Keith Basterfield the full report, originally thought lost, was released in 2012. This is now available as a searchable pdf (66MB): click here to download

After recording the sequence of events the analysis section of the report immediately dissects the character of the pilot after interviewing those closest to him.

~The available evidence indicates that the pilot, Frederick Valentich was rapidly running out of time. He had told his family, girlfriend and that he only had one subject left to pass to gain his Commercial Pilot licence and he was currently going to instructional classes twice a week to study that subject. His father was assisting him financially to obtain his commercial licence.”

It also details how he had failed all five Commercial Pilot Licence subjects on two occasions and sat for three subjects in July 1978. He had failed those too.

His family and girlfriend were led to believe his flight to King Island was a trip to bring back some crayfish. However he had told the Operator and Moorabbin Briefing Officer that the purpose of his flight was to collect a group of friends fro, King Island. Valentich had placed no orders for crayfish from King Island. Nor had he requested aerodrome lighting at King Island despite knowing the Flight Service Unit there had closed and he would not be landing until after dusk.

The analysis also notes Valentich’s calm and ‘matter of fact’ voice transmission as he describes the other aircraft in his vicinity. It even hints that he may have planned to disappear. Commenting that had he maintained his flight path then wreckage of his aircraft would have been spotted between Cape Otway and King Island. When search and rescue operations had failed to turn up any evidence that his plane had crashed.

>>>continues below>>>

edit on 11/10/2018 by mirageman because: tidy up

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