The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), Wednesday 8 April 1992, page 23

MIDWEEK

MAGAZINE

Australia have its own
on

Bermuda
off the coast of

Reg

Watson

looks at unusual

one

Ltd, Launceston, went down Flinders Island. The vessel to search

of the many occurred
'

disappearances that have
in Bass
Strait.

sent was resi for the Orion. Meanwhile a dent reported at the time that she had seen later in the sky. Wreckage was "rockets"

Wybia

found
seven

on

Long

Island

people went

offFlinaers.Twenty never down and were

found. On Friday, October 19,1934 (note: Octo ber again) the airliner Miss Hobart, a 12 T 6.19pm on Saturday, Octo A passenger De Havilland owned by William ,*ber 21, 1978, a Cessna 182L Holyman and Son, left northern Tasmania light aircraft took off from JTSL It

!Z»

Moorabbin

airport,

Victoria.

The again.

at 9am

for Victoria.

Fifty-seven

years

never seen too was later the circum

lone occupant was 20-year-old flying stances of its disappearance remain a mys tery. instructor Frederick Valentich whose Island, destination The following year, again in October (the Bass King was
another De Havilland craft, again owned by William Holyman and Son, Valentich and his plane would never crashed off Flinders Island, killing all five be seen make the island and would never occupants. And while there was a witness to it again; no wreckage, no oil spill, no body the crash, there is mystery as to why
Strait. second),
-

nothing.

crashed.

Fourteen years later, the mystery re Radioing in just minutes before intend still asked, "What mains and the question is ing to land at Whitemaker, Flinders Island, Valentich?" Frederick happened to pilot Norman Evans said that the craft was Did he have a closc encounter, as has and Mr Eichstadt, the operator at on course his Or was been claimed, with a UFO? disappearance a hoax, as has been asserted, Flinders, said thai it was not in distress. or did he have an unfortunate accident? We Then, as a witness stated, the craft behaved will explore these questions. in erratic turned on its side and
First we must

.

;

an manner, establish that mystery dis disappeared behind a hill. Strait and on Bass by Projecting ourselves to mid-1978, letters appearances over aeroplanes and ships of various sizes and began appearing in the small local weekly Indeed, we could types are not uncommon. newspaper published on King Island called quite frequently. say they occur King Island News. Reports of lights in the One such amazing event was the disap the island began in July of that sky over vessels, the bar full three months before Valentich's pearance in 1920 of two year, a quentine Southern Cross and the 12-man possible encounter. One letter, dated Sep vessel Amelia J. What is more remarkable is 20, 1978, reported "beautiful tember the disappearance of the plane, a De Havil strange lights". One light, reported the King land DH9A, piloted by seasoned veteran, Island News, followed a vehicle down the Captain W.J. Stutt, who was ordered north to road into Currie (the main town) and search for the two vessels. the lighthouse".

"then disappeared towards
light

His plane
Island

was

last seen

by

his colleague,

?'

;

also searching in a sister aeroplane. ported oval in shape". This "strange vehi plane was seen to go behind a cloud, cle" was the same shape as reported by never to return. The intriguing aspect was island fisherman George Newman and sons that "rockets'1 or "flares" visible up to eight Peter and Neil who, while on a hunting trip, minutes at a time were witnessed by locals followed it in a vehicle before it disappeared along the east coast of Tasmania before and towards the ocean. after the event. Even though Major Ander 21, 1978,

who

Cape Barron Another strange Major Anderson, Camp Creek. "The
over

appeared
vehicle
was

over re

.

strange

was

Stutt's

On

October

Frederick Valcn

tich left off course and Stutt way would "never land there" he helped search the area of those to no effect. No source lights in the sky have ever been satisfactori ly answered. On May 6, 1908, the 114-ton vessel Ori owned by William Holyman and Son on off the coast of
son

said

it

private
was

was

Moorabbin Airport, Victoria, for a flight to King Island. His intention

night flying experience to log up more crayfish and in the meantime pick up some for the officers of the Air in Tasmania Training Corps of which he was an instruct to be a quick trip and he planned or. It was to be back in Melbourne by 10pm for a family reunion.

National Library of Australia

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122408572

family reunion. testified his father, For some reason, Guido Valentich, his son was 40 minutes late leaving the club at Moorabbin Airport. It revealed later that he did not inform was the King Island Service of his flight plan. King Island authorities had no knowledge of his flight intention nor, naturally, the is the flycr"s need for landing lights as this
responsibility.

This fact has raised the question whether he had any intention of ever reaching Curric Airport or whether he had in fact intended inconspicuously at an alterna to land more tive airport. This had led to the charge of "hoax", even though it would have to be an elaborate Valentich one, a charge Guido
rebuffs strongly.

'

Frederick
"fanatic"

was

a

keen student of the UFO
is

mystei7 but, asserts his father, was not a the subject, though convinced on of their existence. Forty-seven minutes after taking off, with his aircraft over Bass Strait, he radioed the Melbourne Flight Service and what fol lowed is the remarkable conversation. Frederick asked traffic control whether there was any other craft in the area below traffic". 5000ft. They replied, "No known Frederick reported a large aircraft below him, only to have it pass over him "at least a thousand feet above". Because of the speed it travelling he requested to know was whether any airforce craft were in the area. Again, Melbourne stated, "No known air
craft in the vicinity".

Frederick Valentich: disappeared Bass Strait in 1978. hovering on hovering and it There The
was no

in

top of
is

not

again me an aircraft."

it's
...

further transmission.

Investigation Accident Report states that at the time the weather was clear with a trace of stratocu mulus cloud at 5000 to 7000ft, scattered cirrus cloud at 3000ft, excellent visibility and light winds.

Aircraft

Summary

An intensive air, sea and land search was continued until October 25, 1978, but no

tracc of the aircraft was

The mysterious craft then approached Frederick from his east side. Frederick stat ed, "It seems that he's playing some to me sort of game. He's flying over two or me three times at a time at speeds I could not identify." He was not able to identify the craft. Then at 7.09pm he said, "It's not an aircraft". asked: "Can Melbourne you de scribe the... er... aircraft?" "As it's flying past it's a long shape... [I cannot] identify more than that. It has such speed... before me right now, Melbourne." Asked how large the object was, Freder ick replied that it seemed stationary and is orbiting and "what I'm doing rig,ht now the thing is just orbiting on top of me also and it's got a green light and sort of metallic. It's all shiny [on] the outside." Later he stated, "... the strange aircraft

found. number of expla nations were expressed; one that Valentich flying his plane upside down during the was conversation and that it was possible he saw the lights of Cape Otway lighthouse and that of King Island. The Department of Transport said that there had been.no other report of anything unusual in the area on that Saturday night; but this was wrong. The King Island News in its leading article after Frederick's reported disappear office states, "Enquiries at the News ance make it clear that the public is not prepared official to be fobbed off with the jargon of dom." It went on to say on the very same night other sightings had been made in Cur rie and further north. day, October 21, a At 2pm on the same woman sunbathing in at King Island was her backyard. The sky was clear except for cloud and from that cloud came one an object "similar to a large ball about quarter the size of the moon". The object, she said, white or silver in colour and moved was slowly to the west toward the sea. the coast of Victoria and from From Melbourne on the same day came reports of object. an unknown A photo taken of the sunset over Bass Strait, 20 minutes before the disappearance of Frederick, by Roy Manifold, was analys ised by computer and was found to contain a solid, probably metallic object. Six colour negatives were inspected for
ever

So what happened?

A

Six colour negatives were inspected for evaluation and in frame six a large cloud like image with a disc structure is visible above the tenuous shape. Nearly twelve years later, Guido Valen tich was approached by a witness who had
never

before come

forward.

Not wanting even now to publicise him self and the responsible position he holds in employment, he told Guido he had seen the
craft

(the UFO) which encountered his from the ground.

son

believe

The hoax claim, however, persists. Some Frederick planned it all, including later with a the part where he will turn up fabulous stoi7 only to earn masses of mon
all. ey for revealing Quentin Fogarty,

the New

Zealand

tele

vision journalist, when aboard a flight off the New Zealand coast travelling with a

dim

crew

just two
on

months

later

described that were

tape and filmed tracked on radar.

in 1978, bright lights

The Valentich story naturally interested him and he eventually met a well-known psychic from the United States, Pat Gagliar do. Mrs Gagliardo sketched a route possibly taken by Frederick and it appeared to sug gest that Frederick actually reached the ex treme north-west coast of Tasmania. Impressed sufficiently enough to organ a search, Mr Fogarty and a friend were unable to find anything.
ise

Guido
alive,

but
a

believes that his son may it is his belief that he was

well be abduct

ed by

UFO.

"The fact that absolutely no trace was found and during the search for him the quite calm. Something would water was have been found. "Secondly, my son would not go on the radio to say such things. It would jeopardise his career," he said.
A hoax? An accident? The evidence for either is not convincing, but there is much stronger evidence that prior to and on the day something strange was occurring in the sky over Bass Strait right through to the coast of New Zealand. Can we conclude anything but that Fred erick Valentich on October 21,1978, ofTthe coast of King Island encountered a UFO? The answer must be that we cannot.

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