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On 15 August 1663 in the Robozero district of Russia, parishioners at a midday church service were startled by a resounding crash. Rushing outside and looking up into the sky they saw to their utter amazement a great ball of fire about 4.5 meters wide, with two fiery beams projecting in front. As they watched the phenomenon, it moved across the church towards a nearby lake.
When it was above the lake, the fireball suddenly disappeared from sight. But an hour later it reappeared in the same spot and moved to within 500 meters of the church group before vanishing. A report written by Ivachko Rjevskoi, included in Historical Files compiled in 1842 by the Archaeological Commission in St Petersburg, is based on the testimony of one of the witnesses, Levka Fedorov. The report revealed that the fireball returned one more time, filling all who saw it with dread. It stayed over the area one and half hours. Fishermen in a boat on the lake about 1500 meters away were burnt by the fire. The lake water was lit up to its full depth of 9 meters, and the fish fled to the banks.
Attempts have been made to explain this strange occurrence as either a meteor or ball lightning, but both arguments seem unconvincing. In reality, nobody knows what the Robozero phenomenon was.
At 5 am on June 12, 1790, near Alencon in France, some farmers saw an enormous globe surrounded with flames. At first they thought it might be a balloon that had caught fire, but they were puzzled by the great speed of the object and the curious whistling sound they heard. The globe slowed down, and eventually landed on the top of a hill, uprooting plants along the slope. It gave out such an intense heat that soon surrounding grass and small trees started burning. Police Inspector Liabeuf was sent to investigate.
By evening the still-warm globe had attracted a curious crowd of locals, including two mayors, a doctor and three other local authorities who vouched for Liabeuf’s report. “All of a sudden a kind of door opened,” the Inspector wrote, “and, there is the interesting thing, a person like us came out of it, but this person was dressed in a strange way, wearing a tight-fitting suit and, seeing all that crowd, said some words which were not understood and fled into the wood.” Almost immediately afterwards the sphere silently exploded and the scattered pieces burnt to powder.
“Searches were initiated to find the mysterious man,” the police inspector concluded, “but he seemed to have dissolved.”
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.