The Valentich Disappearance
When? 21 October 1978
Where? Bass Strait, Australia
hat happened? Frederick Valentich disappeared whilst piloting a light aircraft over Bass Strait. During his routine flight, Valentich reported to Melbourne Air Traffic Control that a ‘strange aircraft’ 1,000m above him was following him. He also complained that his engine was running roughly and his craft began to act in strange ways. The transcript from Valentich’s conversation with Melbourne tells us that the unidentified craft was a long ‘shape’, moving at three times his speed and orbiting him. He also said that its lights were beaming and looked a little like landing lights. Perhaps the most chilling extract from the transcript comes just before Valentich is cut off for good. He says: “It’s hovering – and it’s not an air craft…” Valentich and his aircraft disappeared shortly after this conversation. There was an extensive 7-day search of land and sea and not a single trace of Valentich or his plane was found. The Department of Transport were never able to determine the cause of Valentich’s disappearance, but it was ‘presumed fatal’ for him.
How was it explained? The Australian government came up with several potential explanations. Firstly, as he had enough fuel to fly 800km, they have suggested he may have staged his own disappearance. However there were no reports of matching aircrafts plotted on any radar at this time. Secondly, they claimed that he may have been disoriented and was flying upside down – meaning that the lights he saw were actually a reflection of his own in the water. Finally, they have suggested that he may have committed suicide. However, many believe that – as there was no trace of him or his craft, and he was a competent and qualified pilot with a happy life – he was abducted.