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Valentich Disappearance

Visibility was good and winds were light on October 21, 1978 when pilot Frederick Valentich departed from Moorabbin  Airport in Melbourne Australia. He was piloting a Cessna 182L and intended to make a routine flight to King Island, pick up passengers, and return to Moorabbin Airport. Valentich  departed  Moorabbin  Airport at 18:19 and then contacted the Melbourne Flight Service Unit to inform them of his presence. He reported reaching Cape Otway 41 minutes later at 19:00. It was while crossing the Bass Strait  on route to King Island that things took a strange turn.

When Valentich was flying over Bass Strait in Australia, the pilot noticed something unusual. Valentich saw a large aircraft flying below five thousand feet. He contacted Melbourne Flight Services at 19:06 p.m., asking if there was any known traffic. Melbourne Flight Service Officer Steve Robey responded telling the pilot that there was no known traffic. Robey inquired if  Valentich  could identify the type of aircraft.  Valentich  told Robey he could not identify , only that it had what appeared to be four bright landing lights. Valentich reported the aircraft passed over him at least a thousand feet above. Robey asked for an estimate of the aircraft’s size. Valentich reported that he could not tell the size of the aircraft “due to the speed it’s travelling”. The pilot reported that the aircraft was “orbiting” above him and that it had a shiny metallic surface. He thenreported seeing a green light on the unknown aircraft. After a 28-second silence, the pilot reported that the aircraft had seemingly vanished. After a 25-second silence, he then reported that the aircraft was approaching him again from the southwest. Twenty-nine seconds later, at 19:12 p.m. the pilot sent his last messages. He reported that he was experiencing engine problems and was going to proceed to King Island. Valentich then said, “it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft”. This was the pilots last recorded statement. It was followed by 17 seconds of unidentified noise before all contact was lost.

20-year-old Frederick Valentich disappeared without explanation during his 127-mile flight that day. A search and rescue alert was put out at 19:12 p.m. This was followed by a sea and air search when Valentich failed to arrive at King Island by 19:33 p.m. Two aircraft searched over a seven-day period for his body or signs of the aircraft. A two-week long investigation then began into Valentich’s disappearance. The Department of Transport (DOT) was unable to determine the cause of his disappearance, but concluded that it was “presumed fatal” for Valentich. Neither Valentich nor his aircraft were ever found.


During Valentich’s final recorded transmission to the Melbourne Service Unit, seventeen seconds of unexplained noise were recorded by DOT Air Traffic Control audio tape. The recording was analyzed by Haines, a former researcher with NASA-Ames. He described the 17 seconds of sounds at the end of the recording as “Thirty-six separate bursts with fairly constant start and stop pulses bounding each one,” and said that there were “no discernible patterns in time or frequency.” The sounds are described as metallic and scraping.

Eye Witnesses

A number of individuals reported witnessing unusual activity in the area on the same night as Valentich’s disappearance. Some reported seeing  “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. These accounts 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.

Manifold Photographs

Shortly before Valentich’s last reported contact with Robey, plumber Roy Manifold set up a time lapse camera and tripod on the shoreline in order to photograph the sun setting over the water. When his pictures were developed they appeared to show a fast moving object exiting the water near Cape Otway lighthouse. Manifold gave the time that the pictures were taken as being approximately 6:47 p.m., or 20 minutes before Valentich reported having difficulties.

The pictures were later examined by Phoenix, Arizona- based UFO group Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) and by a number of independent experts. Though the pictures were not clear enough to identify the object, UFO groups argue that the distance that the object moved between frames, relative to clouds in the background, indicate a speed of roughly 200 mph. This speed would be consistent with what Valentich was reporting to Flight Services.

Dr. Haines wrote of the Manifold photographs: “Based on the computerized data of the pictures, it is the consensus of the GSW technicians that the images represent a bona fide unknown flying object, of moderate dimensions, apparently surrounded by a cloud-like vapor/exhaust residue.”


The unexplained aircraft with the green light that Valentich reported may have been a vehicle of some kind, which in turn either abducted Valentich or caused the destruction of his plane. This was the conclusion of Valentich’s father.

The Associated Press interviewed with the pilot’s father, Guido Valentich. AP reported that Guido “hoped his son had been taken by a UFO and had not crashed.” Guido Valentich said, “The fact that they have found no trace of him presents a possibility that UFOs could have been there.” Guido also said that, “He was not the kind of person who would make up stories. Everything had to be very correct and positive for him.” This makes the possibility that Valentich staged his own disappearance highly unlikely.

It was believed that Valentich may have become disoriented and was flying upside down, which led him to crash into the sea. It was further suggested that the Bass Strait’s strong prevailing currents might have carried his relatively light aircraft a long distance before it finally sank. This was ruled out by aviation authorities, as the Cessna 182 has a high wing with a gravity fed fuel system, making prolonged inverted flight impossible in this model. The possibility still remains that Valentich staged his own disappearance or crashed the plane purposely, but these conclusions are highly unlikely based on the evidence.

If you would like to view the official 315 page report you can see it at the National Archives of Australia by clicking  http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=10491375 .

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