Mysterious Disappearances: Frederick Valentich

Frederick Valentich was just 20 years old when he disappeared mysteriously in Australia in 1978. Valentich had been on a 125-mile training flight, when he radioed in to Melbourne Air Traffic Control, telling them he was being accompanied by something he couldn’t identity – suggesting it wasn’t an aircraft. Valentich subsequently vanished, with him and his aircraft never to be seen again. There have been a range of theories regarding the disappearance. In this article, we take a look at the full story, and look at the theories. This article is also this week’s Sunday Read.


This mysterious disappearance took place in Australia


On October 21, 1978, Frederich Valentich was flying on a 125-mile training flight. At 7:06pm, he contacted Melbourne Air Traffic control to say an unidentified object was following him – this was despite Air Control not seeing other traffic. Valentich said he could see four bright lights that illuminated the object. He said it was moving at a fast speed – and slowly approaching him. He soon reported that he was having engine problems. When asked to identify the aircraft – Valentich responded by saying ‘it isn’t an aircraft’. The transmission was soon lost, following unidentified, ‘metallic’ noise.


Valentich himself had around 150 hours of flying experience. He had aimed for a career in the aviation industry, though due to inadequate qualifications, he hadn’t been able to join the Royal Australian Air Force. He was known to Air Traffic Control, having been involved in a number of incidents, including flying into a restricted area and intentionally flying into a cloud. Valentich’s father said that his son was an active believer of UFO’s, and was worried about a possible extra-terrestrial attack.



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A sea and search rescue was attempted, with multiple aircraft’s trying to find Valentich. In total, almost 1,000 square miles were searched, before the search was curtailed on 25th October – following four days. An investigation was launched into his disappearance. No cause was determined, though the conclusion was that the incident had been ‘fatal’ for Valentich. The only possible wreckage that has been found came in 1983, when a part of an aircraft washed up on Flinders Island near Australia. The part was deemed to have been possibly emanated from Valentich’s aircraft.


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There have been a range of theories attributed to this case. The most commonly believed theory is that Valentich had unwittingly started flying upside down, which caused his disorientation. His belief that he saw lights above him – which would be reflecting from the water in this case – all adds up. This theory believes he would subsequently crash in the water – inevitably killing him. Flying upside down could have easily happened – given that Valentich had limited experience in flying at night, and with no horizon near.


However, a range of other theories have been suggested. One of the most prominent is that Valentich staged his own disappearance. Melbourne Police received reports of a mysterious aircraft making an unannounced landing near Cape Otway (close to his vanishing point), on the night of his disappearance. Could this have been Valentich? Considering he never re-appeared, it would be unlikely. Others have suggested deliberate suicide. Many have come to the conclusion that the lights he had seen could’ve easily been Venus, Mars and Mercury, given his location.


However for many believers of UFO’s and extraterrestrials, this is an important case. Some suggest that this case is clear evidence of extraterrestrial life. Valentich’s aircraft could have been destroyed by extraterrestrials, or Valentich himself could’ve been abducted. UFO group Ground Saucer Watch shared photos taken by a local man in the area – Roy Manifold – which purportedly showed an unidentified object exiting some water near Cape Otway – on the night of Valentich’s disappearance. Many UFO enthusiasts hold this case in high esteem.




While this mysterious disappearance hasn’t received the publicity that other cases have got, it is still an interesting case. Unfortunately, it appears in most cases the incident was fatal. Valentich’s proclivity for engaging in stunts add weight to the belief that he was flying upside down – causing what he saw, before unfortunately crashing. However, for many this is evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials. Valentich was ultimately declared legally dead, and the case looks like it will never be solved.



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