Friday, May 4, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: The Valentich Disappearance

On October 21, 1978, 20-year-old pilot Frederick Valentich was flying his Cessna aircraft over the Bass Strait in Australia.  His flight plan (which has been filed with the Moorabin Airport in Melbourne) was to head over to King Island, pick up a few of his friends, and head back.

At approximately 19:00, Valentich contacted the Melbourne flight service to let them know he was in the area. At 19:06, things began to get very weird. Valentich radioed them again, but this time to ask if there were any other aircraft flying in the area.  After telling him there was no, Valentich informed the air traffic controllers that what appeared to be a "large aircraft" with four bright lights had just passed over him at approximately 1,000 feet.

At 19:08, Valentich claimed that unidentified aircraft seemed to be toying with him, repeatedly passing over his plane at an incredibly high rate of speed.  Steve Robey, who was the air traffic controller that had been communicating with Valentich, asked him to confirm his altitude reading and attempt to describe the unidentified aircraft.

After confirming his altitude, Valentich responded that "it's not an aircraft", describing the object as having a  "long shape," metallic surface, and green lights.  He also once again mentioned its incredible speed.

...and call us crazy, but Doc Brown doesn't seem 
like the type to add green fog lights to any type of vehicle.

Then things went from bizarre to chilling.  Valentich made a final transmission that was not only completely baffling, but also turned out to be the last thing anyone would ever hear from him:

"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..."

What followed after Valentich's final words were 17 seconds of "metallic scraping sounds" that multiple expert sound analysises were unable to identify.  Roby continued his attempts to radio Valentich, but to no avail.  After a four day search, no sign of Valentich or his aircraft were ever found.

So what happened?

There are a number of odd eye witness sightings from the day that Valentich's aircraft.  Multiple people reported seeing a strange green light flying erratically in the same area that Valentich radioed as his last location.

These reports were summarily dismissed with what seemed like a good cause:  They primarily came out after reports of Valentich's disappearance were in the news. The only problem with that line of thinking is that the transcript of Valentich describing a strange, erratically moving green light was not released until four years after the incident.

Take that, rational skepticism!

On the other hand...

Some of the conventional explanations have the typical idiotic simplicity that makes people who believe in aliens/UFOs shake with anger:  Like the one that says Valentich was simply "flying upside down" and somehow confused his own reflection in the water for an erratically moving, glowing green object that looked nothing at all like his own aircraft.

My dog Winston may have trouble remembering that his own reflection is not a threat to his well being, but I have a hard time believing that a trained pilot would make the same mistake.

Winston: Good for cuddling, not for flying

But don't worry, skeptics.  I've got you covered, too:  Melbourne police received reports that same day and time of a small aircraft landing near where Valentich was flying.  While this wouldn't explain the metallic scraping noises, a prolonged search without any results is no guarantee that Valentich had truly disappeared.  

While it may be a bit of a jerk move to speak ill of someone who may very well be dead, it is very possible that Valentich could have staged his own disappearance.  What his motivations were (and why he would do this while on his way to pick up friends on a filed and documented flight) are questions that no one seems to have any answers for, including Valentich's own father.

But while people can easily go missing (especially from a few decades ago), an aircraft is a bit harder to hide for an infinite amount of time.  The key to this mystery will be when/if someone ever finds all or part of Valentich's aircraft...

...unless of course it was just taken by space aliens.

Because space aliens are total jerks.