October 21, 1978
Bass Strait, Australia
Frederick Valentich (20) disappears after encountering what some believe to be a UFO
Valentich, described by his father as a “flying saucer enthusiast,” radioed the control tower to inform them of an unidentified flying object with four green lights was following him. When the control tower replied there was no air traffic below 5,000 feet, Valentich disagreed. He told them, “It has four bright lights — appear to be landing lights. Aircraft has just passed over me about 1,000 feet [Valentich was flying at approximately 3,000 feet] above.” When asked to identify the aircraft, Valentich replied, “It isn’t an aircraft. It’s…” before the radio went silent for two minutes. When he came back on, he said he could not identify the object, that it had a long shape, was matching his speed, orbited him as he circled it, and “It has a green light and sort of metallic light on the outside” before reporting his engine was choking. He was never heard from again.
A rescue effort was launched to find Valentich or his plane but was called off on October 25 with no results. Officials believed Valentich had become disoriented, was flying upside down without realizing it, and had been seeing his own lights in the water’s reflection before crashing into the ocean. Another theory proposes Valentich staged his own disappearance, possibly due to his enthusiasm for flying saucers. His disappearance remains unsolved.
Chicago Tribune. October 26, 1978
“Aussies deny description of UFO by missing pilot,” Chicago Tribune [Chicago, Illinois], October 26, 1978
“Search planes abandon hunt for ‘UFO’ pilot,” The Age [Melbourne, Victoria, Australia], October 26, 1978
“Search fails to find pilot who reported seeing UFO,” The Decatur Daily Review [Decatur, Illinois], October 24, 1978
“Pilot Claims Chased By UFO; Search Gets Under Way,” The Daily World [Opelousas, Louisiana], October 23, 1978