Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts or just the plain unexplainable.
This week: UFOs
Ol' h-spray's brought you an awful lot of weird UFO stories, but as interesting as they've been they are rarely documented with anything concrete. As UFO reports generally go – you kinda have to take the word of however many witnesses who claim to have been there. This week though – this week we have a concrete government written depiction of Frederick Valentich's complete and total disappearance – airplane and all.
The report is a dialogue 20 year old pilot Valentich had with an air control tower. He was reporting a strange craft orbiting around him:
"…that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again… it is hovering and it's not an aircraft."
On October 21, 1978 Frederick Valentich submitted a night-flight plan for a trip from Moorabbin to King Island and back. 20-year-old Valentich had a private pilot license, and was fully qualified for night-flight. He flew a Cessna model 182. Obviously Valentich was quite young, thus not the most experienced pilot in Australia. The flight he was taking has even been described as a 'training' flight. Skeptics use this information to discredit the UFO aspect – but that UFO aspect is very hard to discredit after reading the Valentich/air control tower transcript. At 1906 hours Valentich began corresponding with air traffic control – more specifically with an air traffic controller named Steve Robey. Part of the transcript reads:
"Robey: Delta Sierra Juliet, and you confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?
Robey: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, stand by.
Valentich: Melbourne, Delta Sierra Juliet, it's not an aircraft it is (open microphone for two seconds).
Robey: Delta Sierra Juliet, can you describe the -er- aircraft?
Valentich: 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."
Clearly an event as strange and peculiar as this one would have its supporters and its detractors. The naysayers make a surprisingly decent argument – they say Valentich got disoriented, flipped upside down, and saw the lights of his own reflection in the water below him – thinking it to be unidentifiable. A pilot getting disoriented and turning upside down isn't uncommon – even for experienced pilots. And Valentich was relatively new at the flying game.
If that was the case though, and the young flyboy did get flipped around and confused – wouldn't he have just seen an airplane's reflection? Why would he keep saying '…it's not an aircraft'? On top of that – he'd made that exact run several times in the past – implying it should have been pretty routine for him.
Valentich's last transmission was:
"…that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again…it is hovering and it's not an aircraft."
It was followed by 17 seconds of open microphone. Steve Robey – the other end of the radio – says the 17 seconds weren't empty. He claims he heard the sound of metal scraping on metal. Is that what a UFO sucking up an airplane would sound like? Possibly. Would a plane crash be slow enough to actually hear scraping sounds? It's a mystery – but a mystery with alleged witnesses. According to the Victorian UFO Research Society:
"Frederick Valentich was not the only person who reported a strange object over and near Bass Strait that day and night. Researchers have found over fifty reported observations in that area which occurred before, during and after his encounter."
So what happened to Valentich? Nobody is sure – his body and plane were never found. The only thing we know for sure is the search for him ended with this statement:
"The reason for the disappearance of the aircraft has not been determined."
The actual Aircraft Accident Investigation Summary Report by the Commonwealth of Australia's Department of Transport is below. It's in three pages, obviously. Just click for a bigger image…