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King Island, situated in Bass Strait, midway between Victoria and Tasmania, is 64km long and 27km wide. The rugged coastline has been the site of more shipwrecks than any other part of Australia.   (R. Buckminster Fuller)






"If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day."   (John A. Wheeler)




Edited by Malcolm Macdonald from The Echo (18 Mar 2004)
with material drawn from The Adelaide Advertiser (29 Aug 1998),
Victorian UFO Research Society & UFO Research Queensland

At 1908 hrs on 21 February 1978, Frederick Valentich reportedly radioed Melbourne Flight Service saying: "Four bright....seems to me like landing lights....just passed over me. At least a 1000 feet above."

(For a more detailed transcript of the
communication, see the end of this article)

Frederick had just checked in with Steve Robey of the Melbourne Flight Service, six minutes after passing the Cape Otway Lightstation, and had received the all-clear for other air traffic in the area.

After about two minute he became more concerned and reported: "It's approaching now from due east, towards me....It seems to me that he's playing some sort of game...He's flying over me....It's not an aircraft, it's.....it's a long shape....cannot identify...the thing is just orbiting on top of me....it's got a green light and sort of metallic-like...it's all shiny on the outside."

One of the last things Frederick reported before he was interrupted by a strange, unidentified sound, at 1912 hrs was "Ah, Melbourne, that strange craft is hovering on top of me again...It's hovering and it's not an aircraft!"

Cape Otway was the last place Frederick and his hired Cessna 182 was seen before he vanished, never to be never heard of again.

Despite an extensive search, no wreckage was ever found.

The transcript of his final words has fascinated UFO research societies and sceptics, and is considered to be one of the most famous UFO stories in Australia.

Extensive UFO activity had been reported just days before the incident, with UFO reports coming from all over King Island. At one stage, a large light hovered to the west of Maatsuyker Island for nearly two hours, and power in the lighthouse keeper's residence failed for that time. Moving lights and daylight sightings were widely reported as far south as Hobart, with the incidence of sightings peaking on the day that Valentich disappeared.

Witnesses from Cape Otway told of strange green lights in the night sky. Roy Manifold photographed an object hurtling in a blur of speed and mist out of the ocean near Cape Otway lighthouse. The object appears in the last six pictures, which were taken at twenty second intervals.

Over 25 years later, Cape Otway Lightstation guide Peter Livesey, who still describes himself as a sceptic, says the story of Frederick Valentich is the most legitimate UFO story ever.

Peter, an avid star gazer, lives at Hordern Vale, to the north of Cape Otway. He has seen mysterious lights over the Otways several times, but says he is a "concrete evidence sort of a person" and wouldn't describe the lights he has witnessed as UFOs.

The last time he saw curious lights was on a clear night a fortnight ago. "I was looking up in the sky in a west south westerly direction and all of a sudden a flashing light came, and I'm talking high altitude," he said.

"This one glowed, retracted and glowed half a dozen times and then disappeared. If it was a plane you could have tracked it, and this wasn't a meteorite because it was too slow. Normally, you hear the engine of a jet, but not this time."

Photo: The Echo Simon Target, a television producer, said the case was fascinating and it was very strange that no physical evidence of the plane has ever washed up. "I can't think of a rational reason for this to happen and I've studied it endlessly and spoken to lots of people," said Mr Target. "This is one of the top 10 UFO stories around the world and the Valentich disappearance is a big part of UFO mythology and a great part of Australian history."


The Bass Strait Incident
Loy Lawhon

21 October, 1978 , 1819 hours local time
Frederick Valentich, a twenty-year-old pilot with a Class Four instrument rating, took off from Moorabin Airport at Melbourne, Australia. Prior to taking off he had obtained a meteorological briefing at Moorabin and had filed a flight plan for a night flight to King Island and back. King Island is in the Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania. The flight plan called for Valentich to maintain an altitude below 5,000 feet and for the flight to be in two parts: 41 minutes to Cape Otway, then 28 minutes to King Island. He had advised the briefing officer that he was picking up friends on King Island, and he took four life jackets in the plane with him. His plane was a Cessna 182, made of modular units that would float for several minutes. The plane had been refueled to capacity, enough for five hours' flying time. After take-off Valentich established radio contact with Melbourne Flight Service via VHF radio. His designation was "DELTA SIERRA JULIET".

1900 hours local time
Valentich radioed that he had Cape Otway in sight. Cape Otway is the last bit of the Australian continent along the flight path to King Island. According to official records, the weather in the Cape Otway area was clear with a trace of stratocumulus clouds at 5,000 to 7,000 feet, excellent visibility, and light winds. Dusk was at 1918 hours local time.

From the recording made by Melbourne Flight Service(paraphrased):

1906 hours
Valentich: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?
Melbourne: No known traffic.
Valentich: I am... seems to be a large aircraft below five thousand.
Melbourne: What type of aircraft is it?
Valentich: I cannot affirm. It is four bright... it seems to me like landing lights.

1907 hours
Valentich: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. The aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above...
Melbourne: Roger.. and it... it is a large aircraft? Confirm.
Valentich: ... er unknown due to the speed it's traveling. Is there any airforce aircraft in the vicinity?
Melbourne: No known aircraft in the vicinity.

1908 hours
Valentich: Melbourne, it's approaching now from due east towards me...
Valentich: (open microphone for two seconds)
Valentich: ...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...

1909 hours
Melbourne: ... roger... what is your actual level?
Valentich: My level is four and a half thousand four five zero zero...
Melbourne: ... and confirm you cannot identify the aircraft...
Valentich: ... affirmative.
Melbourne: roger... stand by...
Valentich: ... it's not an aircraft it is... (open microphone for two seconds)
Melbourne: ... can you describe the... er... aircraft?
Valentich: ... as it's flying past it's a long shape... (open microphone for three seconds)... cannot identify more than that... it has such speed... (open microphone for three seconds)... before me right now Melbourne...

1910 hours
Melbourne: ...roger... and how large would the... er... object be?
Valentich: ... 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, its got a green light and sort of metallic like... it's all shiny on the outside...
Valentich: (open microphone for five seconds)... it's just vanished...

1911 hours
Valentich: Melbourne, would you know what kind of aircraft I've got? Is it military aircraft?
Melbourne: ...confirm the... er... aircraft just vanished...
Valentich: ... say again?
Melbourne: ... is the aircraft still with you?
Valentich: ... approaching from the southwest...
Valentich: ... the engine is rough idling... I've got it set at twenty three twenty four and the thing is...

1912 hours
Melbourne: ... roger... what are your intentions...
Valentich: ... my intentions are... ah... to go to King Island... ah... Melbourne that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again... (two seconds open microphone)... it is hovering and it's not an aircraft...
Valentich: ... (17 seconds open microphone)...

No further transmissions were received. An alert was declared at 1912 hours, and at 1933 hours, when Valentich failed to arrive at King Island, a search and rescue was begun. An intense air, sea, and land search was continued until 25 October 1978, but no trace was found. No official reason for the disappearance of the aircraft was found. The Cessna was equipped with a radio survival beacon, but no signal from it was ever detected.

Steve Robey, the Melbourne Flight Service Air Traffic Controller on the tape, did not believe that Valentich was perpetrating a hoax. Valentich's plane had to be at an altitude of at least 1,000 feet at the time of his last transmission because VHF radio is line-of-sight, and could not have been received ninety miles away at Melbourne if he was below 1,000 feet.

by Loy Lawhon, reproduced from UFO's / ALIENS