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«Delta Sierra Juliet, it's not an aircraft, it is...»

Frederick Valentich UFO Encounter

"It's got a green light and sort of metallic like, it's all shiny on the outside"...

The story we are about to tell took place 44 years ago. Curious. The turn of the century as a symmetrical axis, because 22 years before the incident occurred and 22 years later we are narrating it. It all started on the afternoon of October 21, 1978, when Australian pilot Frederick Valentich, then only 20 years old, disappeared over Bass Strait at the controls of a single-engine Cessna 182L, blue and white, during a flight from Melbourne's Moorabbin Airfield to King Island, roughly halfway between the Australian mainland and the island of Tasmania. A route that was not new to him. The last radio communication from him occurred at 19:12 local time, 53 minutes after taking off.

Frederick Valentich Encuentro OVNI
Photo of Frederick Valentich from the Australian Department of Transport report. [Photo: Australian Department of Transportation, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The at that time Australian Department of Transport published the transcript of that conversation between the Melbourne Flight Service (FS), specifically through the specialist Steve Robey, and Valentich (DSJ):


DSJ: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known traffic.
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I am, seems to be a large aircraft below five thousand.


FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, What type of aircraft is it?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, I cannot affirm, it is four bright, it seems to me like landing lights.


FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet, the aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, and it is a large aircraft, confirmed?
DSJ: Er-unknown, due to the speed it's travelling, is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, no known aircraft in the vicinity.


DSJ: Melbourne, it's approaching now from due east towards me.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: (open microphone for two seconds.)


DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, 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.


FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what is your actual level?
DSJ: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, and you confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?
DSJ: Affirmative.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, stand by.


DSJ: Melbourne, Delta Sierra Juliet, it's not an aircraft it is (open microphone for two seconds).


FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, can you describe the -er- aircraft?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, as it's flying past it's a long shape (open microphone for three seconds) cannot identify more than it has such speed (open microphone for three seconds). It's before me right now Melbourne.


FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger and how large would the - er - object be?


DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne, 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. It's got a green light and sort of metallic like, it's all shiny on the outside.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet (open microphone for three seconds) It's just vanished..
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: Melbourne, would you know what kind of aircraft I've got? Is it a military aircraft?
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, Confirm the - er ~ aircraft just vanished.
DSJ: Say again.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, is the aircraft still with you?
DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet; it's (open microphone for two seconds) now approaching from the south-west.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet, the engine is rough-idling. I've got it set at twenty three twenty-four and the thing is coughing.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet, roger, what are your intentions?
DSJ: My intentions are - ah - to go to King Island - ah - Melbourne. That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again (open microphone for two seconds). It is hovering and it's not an aircraft.
FS: Delta Sierra Juliet.


DSJ: Delta Sierra Juliet. Melbourne (open microphone for seventeen seconds).



They were the last words of the pilot, who was never heard from again, as well as of the airplane in which he was traveling. Although his disappearance remains a mystery to this day, in the article Valentich Disappearance: New Evidence and a New Conclusion, published in 2000 by the Journal of Scientific Exploration, and whose authorship corresponds to Richard F. Haines, who worked as a researcher for NASA, and Paul Norman, from the Victorian UFO Research Society, concludes what could have happened to the pilot and his airplane after the encounter with the UFO. And it has nothing to do with the theories for all tastes, some more crazy than others, which over time have been used to explain the strange encounter and the subsequent and strange disappearance.

Disappearance after Crashing into the Sea, a more Rational Theory

As it is, these two investigators base their conclusion on the testimony of three witnesses, each of whom claimed to have seen a plane descending at a steep angle with a much larger object with green lights flying overhead, which along with further inquiries and documentation led them to suggest that the Cessna 182L probably crashed into the sea southeast of Cabo Marengo between 3 and 12 miles from the coast, remaining to be identified the nature of the large object with green lights that accompanied the plane during its steep descent.

On the other hand, the authors also claim to have heard the audio of a 13-minute recording, six of which were transcribed and that we have reproduced above, between the Melbourne Flight Service and Valentich; ensuring that there is no evidence on said tape that contradicts their conclusions.

Continuing with the article by Haines and Norman, in the years after the event, the latter managed to interview several people who traveled or lived in the area, managing to collect testimonies from twenty eyewitnesses, who described a green light that moved erratically in the sky at the same time in the afternoon that Valentich's flight took place. Three of them would shed new and valuable light on the event after telling in the first instance that they saw the lights of a small plane and a very large green light that was traveling above it. The main witness, Mr. Ken Hansen (pseudonym), who was 47 years old at the time, told his wife what he and his two nieces had just seen on the way home, but she could not help but laugh in disbelief of his story. The next morning, she mentioned it to his co-workers, who although they believed what he said about the plane, they didn't about the large object with green lights that accompanied it. Hansen decided to drop the matter to avoid being teased any further. Even so, years later he discussed the sighting with a local policeman, who would later tell the story to Guido Valentich, father of the missing pilot, as he would confirm to Norman himself. Hansen's two nieces would also be interviewed, offering the same basic details as their uncle. In addition, according to their testimonies, no sounds were heard from the direction of the lights at any time during the sighting, and the plane was never seen crashing into the ground or the sea.

Cessna 182 Frederick Valentich
Cessna plane similar to the one in the incident. [Photo: Robert Frola (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons]

Did the Strange Object Take Control of the Plane?

Other conclusions of both researchers is that the altitude of the Cessna began to decrease around 19:10:30, shortly after Valentich began to fly in circles -"orbit"-. Its engine started to fail at 19:11:52 - the problem with the engine is heard on the audio tape. The aircraft continued to descend at approximately 500 feet per minute, and radio transmission ceased after 19:12:49 due to progressive loss of signal due to the curvature of the earth.

Since no remains of Valentich's plane have been found, Haines and Norman contend that if it had crashed on the ground, search and rescue personnel would have found wreckage in the years after its disappearance, adding that locating a crash in the sea ​​is a much more difficult task. Although the authors regret that it may never be known exactly what happened to Frederick Valentich, they felt that an attempt should be made to locate the aircraft by launching an underwater search operation.

According to Valentich's words during the incident, it is as if the presence of the strange object had, on the one hand, caused a failure in the plane's engine and, on the other, in turn had taken control of it, causing it to "orbit".

Numerous Sightings on the Same Day

UFO Encounter Frederick Valentich
[LPDS/Wombo Art]

According to the investigations carried out both by individuals and by different groups, such as the Victorian UFO Research Society, based in Moorabbin, Frederick Valentich was not the only one to report the presence of a strange object in the Bass Strait that day and that night, accounting for more than fifty observations related to said phenomenon before, during and after the meeting of the young pilot. Unlike those sightings that usually occur from the ground and at a greater or lesser distance, perhaps his was special, because apart from having occurred at a certain altitude, in full flight, being a direct and very close witness of said phenomenology, everything was recorded on the radio while it was happening.

According to Paul Norman, documented interviews with people in locations up to 300 kilometers from the point of the Valentich incident revealed similar stories of round or starfish-shaped objects, as well as silver cylinder-shaped UFOs that they moved slowly in the sky with seemingly no means of propulsion and no sound.

The Reappearance of Valentich in the Canary Islands, a less Conventional Theory

And as we said before, to the serious investigations carried out on this matter, such as those of Haines and Norman, there are also certain theories that are as strange or more strange than the encounter and subsequent disappearance suffered by Valentich. According to some of the stories that have circulated about this enigmatic event, and which have been echoed by researchers and disseminators who take their work seriously and enjoy a solid reputation within the so-called world of mystery, the Australian pilot could have been abducted, kidnapped, recruited... during his anomalous encounter that October 21, 1978, and he would still be with us. And this is where the possible reappearance of the pilot in 1989 in the Canary Islands comes into play. And more specifically in Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife), where eleven years after his disappearance without a trace, he would allegedly have interacted with several witnesses, a group of three friends and a married couple on vacation on the island, who would ensure that the person presented to them as Frederick Valentich was the same, at least in physical terms, as the one that appeared in real photographs of the Australian pilot. Curiously, and despite the fact that he should have been 31 years old in 1989, these witnesses assured that the young man who approached them for no apparent reason must have been around twenty.

In fact, even the local press, and specifically the Diario de Avisos, would echo the alleged reappearance of the young pilot. Thus, in one of the articles published in this regard, reference is made to the alleged meeting that two of the three friends mentioned above would have had with a young man who claimed to be Valentich in the Plaza del Charco:

(...) At that time I sat on a bench, since Enrique was late. Then I was approached by an individual in his early twenties, well dressed, who, of course, had already come with an intention. He asked me if the bench was free. I answered affirmatively. He sat down asking me my name, if I lived in the Puerto... He immediately changed the subject and started with questions about UFOs, if I believed that life existed on other planets... I don't remember much more, but then my friend arrived ( ...)

These witnesses of the alleged encounter also assured that the young man who approached them showed them documents about his identity.

That of Frederick Valentich, whose cause of disappearance continues to be undetermined by the authorities, constitutes a special case within aviation and ufology phenomena, since, as we have already said, his words in real time describing an unknown object with a strange behavior that crossed his path unexpectedly, were recorded during his shocking conversation with a member of the Melbourne Flight Service. If it is still shocking today, what to say 44 years ago.

Radio interview with Paul Norman in 1988 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of F. Valentich.


Richard F. Haines, Paul Norman (2000). Valentich Disappearance: New Evidence and a New Conclusion. In Journal of Scientific Exploration  (Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 19-33). Society for Scientific Exploration
Paul Norman. "The Frederick Valentich Disappearance". Victorian UFO Research Society, 14 October 2022, http://members.ozemail.com.au/~vufors/valensum.htm
Alfonso Ferrer. "El enigmático caso Valentich". Noticias desde Metrópolis, 14 October 2022, https://alfonferrer.blogspot.com/2018/08/el-enigmatico-caso-valentich.html]