Flight instructor Frederick Valentich of Australia disappeared in 1978 while piloting a rented Cessna 182 after reporting the presence of an unidentified flying object. Is it possible that Valentich’s abduction was a hoax and not merely the result of a missing plane?
Prelude to a disappearance: The Life of Fredrick Valentich
The sun was sinking beyond the horizon of Australia on October 21, 1978. A young man called Frederick Valentich departed Victoria, Australia’s Moorabbin Airport, at 6:19 p.m., flying in a leased Cessna 182L. He traveled 130 nautical miles across the Bass Strait to reach King Island.
Usually, the Strait presents challenging flying conditions, but the night in question was clear, and the winds were calm. Valentich was in a hurry to arrive at a hotel where he and his pals were going to have a seafood dinner by the water.
Unfortunately, Valentich could not make it to that or any future dinner dates. At 7:06 p.m., he called Air Flight Service to report a UFO circling his location.
“Looks like a big plane, almost 5,000 feet up… just flew past my head from a good thousand feet above. It was 4,500 feet up for Valentich. It’s coming towards me right now from the direction of the east… As far as I can tell, he’s just messing around.”
It was at that point that his transmission started to become stranger. He began by saying the other plane was sitting there. Then he said it was flying above in orbit. The communication was lost around 7:12 p.m. He reported a rough-sounding engine shortly afterward and ceased all transmissions forever.
Both Valentich and his plane disappeared without a trace.
Possible Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis
Valentich’s interest in extraterrestrial craft may best be described as pathological. His certainty that they did exist extended to his conviction that they would soon launch an assault on Earth. It’s speculated that he was snatched after getting too near to the truth. Even though it seems out of this world, witnesses said they saw something other than humans on the night he vanished.
Someone had, in fact, reported seeing a green light in the sky, which matched the description given by Valentich in his broadcast.
“It glows green and has a metallic feel. As though the outside were entirely polished. It suddenly disappeared…”
A farmer in Cape Otway, a region on the outskirts of Valentich’s flight route, saw a mysterious flying object over his land the following day. It looked to have a little aircraft connected to its side and was around 30 meters in diameter.
The oil was spilling from the connected plane, the farmer said. Unable to forget what he had seen, he engraved the plane’s tail number onto one of his tractors. When compared to Valentich’s Cessna, the number was a perfect match.
An ambitious young pilot, Valentich had lofty plans for his future in the sky. It seems unlikely that he would ever have a successful career in that field. The Australian Air Force turned him down twice. He had also just failed the commercial pilot’s test for the second time.
Valentich, a pilot with just 150 hours under his belt, had already been engaged in three aviation mishaps, including one in which he intentionally flew into cloud cover. The latter put him in danger of legal action.
No pilot, much alone one with Valentich’s past, is immune to the disorienting effects of flying over water into the setting sun. He looked preoccupied with fantastical UFO beliefs rather than doing the essential job of piloting the aircraft. The four lights he saw may have been from another plane, but they were probably just Mercury, Venus, Mars, and a brilliant star named Antares.
From the sounds of his broadcast, Valentich started doing some circles with his plane. Perhaps he was experiencing the titled horizon illusion while at a bank. He may have gone into a downward spiral when he lost his bearings or even been flipped upside down.
He probably saw his green light reflected in the sea. The Cessna 182’s gravity-fed fuel system means that the plane’s engine would have run out of gas rapidly, which would account for the jerky final transmission sounds.
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The Concept of a Staged Disappearance
Multiple calls were made to authorities that night reporting an unidentified aircraft landing at Cape Otway, where Valentich vanished. If Valentich had stuck to his planned route, he would have been near the Cape when he first started talking to Air Flight Service.
Can we exclude the possibility that Valentich, fed up with his dwindling aviation career, made up the UFO encounter to justify staging his disappearance? An “abduction” would provide credence to his UFO theories and a clean slate in an otherwise difficult existence.
However, most people agree that instead of being kidnapped by aliens, Valentich became a victim of his delusion. Although the farmer’s account is fascinating, it wasn’t made public until 36 years after Valentich vanished.
In truth, no such farmer has ever been located despite extensive searches by UFO researchers. The media articles about Valentich referenced a green light in the sky, but the eyewitness who claimed to have seen the light came forward later.
The plane seen above Cape Otway wasn’t trying to land but instead crashing into the ocean. Valentich’s fixation on extraterrestrial craft had overcome him. His aircraft was lost forever, but in 1983, a piece of an engine cowl flap washed up on Flinders Island.
The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation determined that the component originated from a Cessna 182 within a specific range of serial numbers, which included the aircraft Valentich was piloting on the night in question.
Rip Frederick Valentich
Next, read about the fascinating story of How a Man Became a Legend by Hijacking an Aircraft. Like Unsolved Mysteries more? Head on to the Story of The Two-Headed Man!
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