At 6:19 PM on October 21, 1978, 20-year-old Frederick Valentich took off from Melbourne, Australia in his Cessna aircraft, heading towards King Island, 160 kilometers to the south-west, in perfect weather. Already an Air training Corps instructor with some aerobatic training, Valentich needed more night-flying experience for his commercial pilot’s license. His 150 hours aloft had mostly been in the single-engine Cessna that he was now flying.
At 7 PM Vaentich advised Air Traffic Control that he was over Cape Otway and about to cross Bass Strait, the stretch of ocean separating Tasmania from mainland Australia. He called again at 7:06 PM to ask if any known traffic were in the area. When advised that there were not, he reported a large aircraft below 1,500 meters, “it is four bright, it seems to me like landing lights . . . The aircraft has just passed over me at least 1,000 feet above.” Then at 7:08 PM Valentich reported, “he’s flying over me two three timeas at atime at speeds I could not identify . . . It’s not an aircraft. It is . . . “ Radio contat was briefly broken and then he continued. “As it’s flying past it’s a long shape . . . [Cannot] identify more than [that it has such speed].”
Ah to go to King Island. Ah that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.” The Melbourne flight controller acknowledged that call, and reported hearing some metallic noises on the radio Valentich did not speak again.
An air search began on Sunday October 22nd, and fishing boats from King Island patrolled the sea. But hundreds of search hours failed to locate the missing Cessna or its pilot.
The Australian Department of Transport states simply, “The reason for the disappearance of the aircraft has not been established.” Believers in the paranormal in Australia, New Zealand and America have suggested that Valentich is alive and working with underwater aliens. Guido Valentich believes that his son could have been taken by a UFO, and that perhaps he will one day be returned. But it seems more likely that the unfortunate pilot, unused to twilight zone conditions, became confused by the flashing lighthouses on Cape Otway and king Island and crashed into the sea.
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