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UFOs and aircraft close encounters:

Some "skeptics" are still making ironical comments about UFO. One often heard is "If there were UFOs, how do you explain that pilots do not meet them in the skies?" Well, they do, and Sometimes pilots wonder if they will not meet just a little too close... and, this time, it seems it happened.

The Frederick Valentich accident:

The story of Australian pilot Frederick Valentich, a twenty-year-old pilot with a Class Four instrument rating is possibly the most famous of Australian UFO encounters, and an almost unique event of a disappearance of an aircraft and its pilot most likely a consequence of the contact between the aircraft and a UFO.

The young pilot and his Cessna disappeared over Bass Strait, off south-eastern Australia in 1978, while he headed to King Island, between the Australian mainland and Tasmania.

He told over the radio to air traffic controllers in Melbourne that he was being buzzed by a UFO with 4 bright lights about 1000 feet above him. He continued to comment about the objects characteristics before all contact was lost.


During that time, twenty people located in different areas around Bass Strait observed a green light in the same direction and at the same time the pilot was reporting the approach and description of an object with a green light. In addition, other reports have been forthcoming, such as a mother and four teenagers in the southern suburb of Frankston, reported what appeared to resemble a skyrocket, although the object was stationary, a report from Ormond, a suburb in southern Melbourne, occurring at 07:15pm when lights were noted in a cigar shaped arrangement and two lads were out in the street communicating with their walkie-talkies when they saw a star-shaped object appear at a low altitude over their heads.

On October 11, 2000, Melbourne's Herald-Sun reported that fresh light had been shed on the case of the Victorian pilot. An Apollo Bay man, (the area near where the pilot experienced problems) said that he, his son and two nieces observed Valentich's Cessna and a green light hovering above it as they hunted rabbits in Cape Otway. The man had not come forward previously for fear of ridicule. He placed the aircraft as going down off Cape Marengo just south east of Apollo Bay, between five to fifteen kilometers offshore. This was a considerable distance from the original search area.

A niece looked up and saw the green light and called to her uncle, "What is that light?" The uncle looked up and answered, "An airplane light". The niece then said, "No, the light above the airplane". Frederick was the only pilot flying in the area at that time. Sight of the airplane and object was lost when they flew behind the hills.

No trace of Valentich or his aircraft have been recovered, despite many attempts, including a hoaxed "find." The Cessna was equipped with a radio survival beacon, but no signal from it was ever detected.

The original recording of Valentich’s fight was mysteriously erased. No official conclusion has been given for the strange sound, which was heard that interrupted the last statement of the pilot. The sound was what could be called a scraping of metal against metal. Steve Robey, the flight traffic controller asked him repeatedly what was the scraping sound heard. Also deleted from the tape were his last few words where Valentich decried flames from the end of the cylinder shaped object as it passed over him. His plane then being engulfed in a strange green light and a feeling of burning that followed when his transmission ended.

There had been many UFO sightings in the Brass Strait area and also the Tasman Sea and New Zealand, to the east. These sightings culminated in objects being filmed by two news crews in December 1978 and January 1979. Bass Strait is also a noted area for the disappearance of many ships and aircraft as well as UFO reports. Interestingly, Frederick Valentich attended for a special course relating to UFO's at Sale Air Base in south eastern Victoria. So concerned was he about what he had seen and been told at Sale that Valentich emotionally told his parents shortly afterwards that "should they take me I should be O.K. so don't worry, they will probably put me back."

20 years later, on the afternoon of October 21, 1998 a plaque was placed in the grounds of the Cape Otway light station near the Weather Station by Valentich's family and friends.

Radio transmission record:

Following is the actual transcription between Valentich and the Melbourne Flight Service. (FS - Flight Service, DSJ - Frederick Valentich aircraft designation).

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

FS 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.

19:07 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 traveling, 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.

19:09 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 stationary. 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 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 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

1911:50 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 it's not an aircraft.

FS Delta Sierra Juliet.

1912:28 DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne (open microphone for seventeen seconds).

(An unexplained sound abruptly terminated the voice communications.)

Associated Press news release:


Date: October 25, 1978.


Boats and aircraft have found no trace of the 20-year old Australian pilot who disappeared with his plane on Saturday night after radioing that he was being chased by a UFO. Frederick Valentich was on a 125 mile training flight in his single engine Cessna 182 along the coast of Bass Strait when he told air traffic controllers in Melbourne that he was being buzzed by a UFO with 4 bright lights about 1000 feet above him.

Controllers said his last message was taped and was: "It's approaching from due east towards me. It seems to be playing some sort of game... flying at a speed I can't estimate. It's not an aircraft. It's...It is flying past. It is a long shape. I cannot identify more than that. It's coming for me right now." A minute later: "It seems to be stationary. I'm also orbiting and the thing is orbiting on top of me also. It has a green light and a sort of metallic light on the outside." Valentich then radioed that his engine was running roughly. His last words were: "It is not an aircraft."

The Australian Air Force said it had received 11 reports from people along the coast who said they saw UFOs on Saturday night, but the Transport Department was skeptical. Ken Williams, a spokesman for the department, said, "It's funny all these people ringing up with UFO reports well after Valentich's disappearance. It seems people often decide after the event, they too had seen strange lights. But although we can't take them too seriously, we can never discourage such reports when investigating a plane's disappearance."

Some Transport Dept officials have speculated that Valentich became disoriented and saw his own lights reflected in the water, or lights from a nearby island, while flying upside down.

Valentich's father, Guio, said his son used to study UFOs "as a hobby using information he had received from the Air Force. He was not the kind of person who would make up stories. Everything had to be very correct and positive for him. The fact that they have found no trace of him really verifies the fact that UFOs could have been there." Guio Valentich said he hoped his son had not crashed but has been taken by a UFO.

Aircraft accident summary report:

Here is the aircraft accident summary report by the Australian aviation authorities.

In the Press:

Daily colonist Canada, October 28, 1978 "Mystery 'UFO' case details soon - friend".
Daily colonist Canada, October 25, 1978 "Aliens got him - dad".
Daily colonist Canada, October 24, 1978 "'It's coming for me right now...'".


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This page was last updated on November 10, 2001.