6. The Valentich Disappearance
Frederick Valentich disappeared on October 21, 1978. So did the plane he was piloting. What makes the disappearance even more haunting is that Valentich, in a now-transcribed conversation with air traffic control, narrated the moments leading up to his disappearance. (The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, CSIOP.com).
The young pilot, who had flown just under 150 miles before that evening, was flying a small, single-engine Cessna over King Island (near Melbourne, Australia). It was around 7:00 p.m. when he radioed Melbourne Air Flight Service to ask whether any known large aircraft were operating in his area. Operator Steve Robey responded to the request, stating that there appeared to be no known aircraft around Valentich’s location. Valentich described to Robey the craft he was seeing: “It is [sic] four bright, it seems to me like landing lights. . . . It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game. He’s flying over me two, three times, at a time at speeds I could not identify.”
Valentich went on to describe the aircraft in vague terms, dictating as it moved above, below, and all around his plane and his explanation grew more and more improbable. The end of his transmission is presented below:
Robey: Is the aircraft still with you?
Valentich: [It’s, ah, nor-] [Silence for 2 seconds.] [Now] approaching from the southwest. . . . The engine is, is rough idling. I’ve got it set at twenty three twenty four, and the thing is—coughing.
R: Roger. What are your intentions?
V: My intentions are, ah, to go to King Island. Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. [Silence for 2 seconds.] It is hovering, and it’s not an aircraft.
(Aircraft Accident Investigation Summary Report. 1982. Department of Transportation, Commonwealth of Australia. Ref. No. V116/783/1047, April 27. )
Seventeen seconds of open mic silence followed with screeching metallic noises. Valentich’s plane and body were never found.
Level of Skepticism: There exist plenty of rational explanations, ranging from the natural (disorienting gases), to the psychological (the whole thing was a staged suicide hoax), to the professional (an inexperienced pilot unknowingly flew upside down into the water). But it is fun to think about what History Channel might speculate about this story.
Tips for a Potential Director: Several witnesses have come forth since claiming to have seen UFOs in the area that day. Play off of these testimonies in a slow burn to climax.