October 21, 1978: UFO Abducts Australian Pilot, and Plane!

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A Brief History

On October 21, 1978, the Australian pilot of a Cessna 182 (small single engine propeller airplane) disappeared, but not before he radioed to Melbourne air traffic controller that he was being shadowed by “not an aircraft.”

Digging Deeper

The 20 year old pilot, Frederick Valentich, had 150 flying time under his belt, and was authorized to fly at night in clear conditions. Although strongly desiring a career in the Australian Air Force, he had been rejected on academic grounds and had failed key tests to start a career in commercial aviation. He was apparently a lackluster pilot, or at least the Australian Department of Transport would have you believe. Valentich was also a believer in UFO’s, a point prominently made once he disappeared.

Flying over Bass Straits at 7:06 pm, Valentich radioed that an aircraft was flying about a 1000 feet above him, a large unknown type aircraft. Air traffic controllers say no aircraft was at that altitude (4500 feet, as Valentich was at 3500 feet) in that area. Valentich reported the craft had passed him at “high speed” and was now flying at him in an apparent attempt to “toy” with him. Valentich then reported the craft was a large shiny metallic object with a green light and that the Cessna’s engine was running rough. He then reported the object was “not an aircraft.”  The radio transmissions from Valentich abruptly ended, but air traffic controllers heard a “metallic scraping sound” before the radio died.

Rescuers searched the area for the next 4 days, but no trace of Valentich or his plane was ever found. Tantalizingly a small piece (engine cowl flap) from a Cessna 182 was found 5 years later, but no positive connection to Valentich’s airplane could be made.

Obviously, UFO enthusiasts believe Valentich and his plane were abducted by aliens, but skeptics leaned toward believing Valentich had staged his own disappearance, although Valentich was not reported to be unhappy or suicidal. Some reports of UFO sightings from this time frame did come in after the disappearance was reported. Investigators theorized Valentich may have accidentally been flying upside down and seen his plane’s reflection on the water, confusing him. Other “experts” guessed Valentich may have been deceived by an optical illusion and become disoriented, going into an even more disorienting spin, resulting in a crash.

What happened to this young man and his airplane? Was it a hoax, a staged suicide? Was it genuine confusion and an accident? Or was it really a UFO abduction? You decide and let us know what you think and why.

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.