The Valentich Disappearance

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On the night of October 21, 1978 Australian Frederick Valentich radioed into air traffic control in Melbourne with some strange news. An unidentified metallic craft was toying with his Cessna as he flew over the Bass Strait en route to King’s Island.  No one ever saw him or his aircraft again.

It all happened during the largest wave of UFO sightings Australia had ever seen.  Over fifty reports were uncovered from the area of Valentich’s disappearance on that day alone.  Some reported classic cigar-shaped craft while others saw a “starfish-shaped” object with lights that looked like “silver rain.”  Electronic interference was noted in a number of these reports.

Some witnesses even said they saw a “green light” shadowing Valentich’s aircraft on the night in question. Valentich left a looming legacy of his final moments with a bizarre yet compelling radio transmission:

19:06:14 DSJ [Valentich]: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?

FS [Flight Services; Robey]: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known traffic.

DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I am, seems to be a large aircraft below five thousand.

19:06:44 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, What type of aircraft is it?

DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I cannot affirm, it is four bright, and it seems to me like landing lights.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

19:07:31 DSJ: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet, the aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, and it is a large aircraft, confirmed?

DSJ: Er-unknown, due to the speed it’s travelling, is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known aircraft in the vicinity.

19:08:18 DSJ: Melbourne, it’s approaching now from due east towards me.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

19:08:41 DSJ: (open microphone for two seconds.)

19:08:48 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, it seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game, he’s flying over me two, three times at speeds I could not identify.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what is your actual level?

DSJ: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet and you confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?

DSJ: Affirmative.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, stand by.

19:09:27 DSJ: Melbourne, Delta Sierra Juliet, it’s not an aircraft it is (open microphone for two seconds).

19:09:42 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, can you describe the – er – aircraft?

DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, as it’s flying past it’s a long shape (open microphone for three seconds) cannot identify more than it has such speed (open microphone for three seconds). It’s before me right now Melbourne.

19:10 FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger and how large would the – er – object be?

19:10:19 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne, it seems like it’s chasing me. What I’m doing right now is orbiting and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also. It’s got a green light [emphasis mine] and sort of metallic like, it’s all shiny on the outside.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet

19:10:46 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet (open microphone for three seconds) It’s just vanished.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

19:11:00 DSJ: Melbourne, would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got? Is it a military aircraft?

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, Confirm the – er – aircraft just vanished.

DSJ: Say again.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, is the aircraft still with you?

DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet; it’s (open microphone for two seconds) now approaching from the south-west.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet

19:11:50 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, the engine is rough-idling. I’ve got it set at twenty three twenty-four and the thing is (coughing).

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what are your intentions?

DSJ: My intentions are – ah – to go to King Island – ah – Melbourne. That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again (open microphone for two seconds). It is hovering and (open microphone for one second) it’s not an aircraft.

FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.

19:12:28 DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne (open microphone for seventeen seconds).

Those were Valentich’s last words to Air Traffic Control, and maybe his last words to anyone. What followed were 17 seconds of a metallic scraping sound. Neither Valentich nor his plane were ever seen again. The investigation has been one, long, frustrating dead end. No wreckage of the plane has been found. Despite analysis by a former NASA researcher and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, these sounds remain a mystery.

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