On October 21, 1978, 20-year-old Frederick Valentich
climbed into his Cessna 182L airplane and took off from Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne. He was never seen again.
Valentich, a pilot with a Class 4 instrument rating and more than 150 hours of solo flight time under his belt, planned to fly to King Island in Bass Strait
. Just over an hour into his flight, Valentich contacted flight control in Melbourne to report a strange craft hovering near his airplane. According to Valentich, the object had "a green light and [was] sort of metallic like, it's all shiny on the outside."
Valentich reported that he was experiencing engine problems and would proceed to King Island. Melbourne flight control then lost contact with the young pilot--the final transmission from Valentich's plane was 17 seconds of unidentified noise described as "metallic, scraping sounds."
Despite a week-long search, no trace was ever found
of Valentich or his plane. Meanwhile, as news of the disappearance spread, a number of people reported seeing strange lights in the sky.
Among them was Roy Manifold, a photographer who had been shooting the sunset over the ocean. When he developed them, he discovered a large, mysterious object in one
. The photo was subjected to various tests by different experts, none of whom agreed on exactly what, if anything, Manifold had captured on film.
Theories abounded about what had happened to Valentich. Some claim he was abducted
. Other reports claim it was a hoax. Still others say he probably became disoriented and crashed
More than 30 years later
, the Valentich case still fascinates UFO buffs and has been the subject of a number of television and radio programs:
; Part 1
, Part 2