Twenty-year-old Frederick Valentich disappeared while on a 125-mile (235 km) training flight in a Cessna 182L light aircraft over Bass Strait in Australia on 21 October 1978.
Described as a “flying saucer enthusiast“, Valentich radioed Melbourne air traffic control that he was being accompanied by an aircraft about 1,000 feet (300 m) above him, that his engine had begun running roughly, and finally reported, “It’s not an aircraft.“
There were belated reports of a UFO sighting in Australia on the night of the disappearance, however Associated Press reported that the Department of Transport was sceptical a UFO was behind Valentich’s disappearance, and that some of their officials speculated that “Valentich became disorientated and saw his own lights reflected in the water, or lights from a nearby island, while flying upside down.”
Frederick Valentich had about 150 total hours flying time and held a class four instrument rating which authorised him to fly at night but only “in visual meteorological conditions”. He had twice applied to enlist in the Royal Australian Air Force but was rejected because of inadequate educational qualifications. He was a member of the Air Training Corps, determined to have a career in aviation. Valentich was studying part-time to become a commercial pilot but had a poor achievement record, having twice failed all five commercial license examination subjects, and as recently as the previous month had failed three more commercial license subjects. He had been involved in flying incidents, for example, straying into a controlled zone in Sydney, for which he received a warning, and twice deliberately flying into cloud, for which prosecution was being considered. According to his father, Guido, Frederick was an ardent believer in UFOs and worried about attacks from UFOs.
Valentich radioed Melbourne Flight Service at 7:06 PM to report an unidentified aircraft was following him at 4,500 feet and was told there was no known traffic at that level. Valentich said he could see a large unknown aircraft which appeared to be illuminated by four bright landing lights. He was unable to confirm its type, but said it had passed about 1,000 feet (300 m) overhead and was moving at high speed. Valentich then reported that the aircraft was approaching him from the east and said the other pilot might be purposely toying with him. Valentich said the aircraft was “orbiting” above him and that it had a shiny metal surface and a green light on it. Valentich reported that he was experiencing engine problems. Asked to identify the aircraft, Valentich radioed, “It isn’t an aircraft” when his transmission was interrupted by unidentified noise described as being “metallic, scraping sounds” before all contact was lost.
Ufologists have speculated that extraterrestrials either destroyed Valentich’s plane or abducted him, asserting that some individuals reported seeing “an erratically moving green light in the sky” and that he was “in a steep dive at the time.” Ufologists believe these accounts are significant because of the “green light” mentioned in Valentich’s radio transmissions.
Phoenix, Arizona- based UFO group Ground Saucer Watch claim that photos taken that day by plumber Roy Manifold show a fast moving object exiting the water near Cape Otway lighthouse. Though the pictures were not clear enough to identify the object, UFO groups argue that they show “a bona fide unknown flying object, of moderate dimensions, apparently surrounded by a cloud-like vapour/exhaust residue.“