Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Kettering Incident and Australia's most enduring UFO mystery - the disappearance of Frederick Valentich.

Frederick Valentich plaque at Cape Otway

"That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again .. it is hovering and it's not an aircraft". 

These were the last words ever spoken by 20 year old Frederick Valentich, the young pilot at the centre of Australia's most enduring UFO mystery.

In the early evening on October 21, 1978, Valentich left Melbourne's Moorabbin airport for a flight to King Island in Bass
Strait, the remote and tempestuous stretch of ocean separating the Australian mainland from the island of Tasmania. Piloting a single engined Cessna 182 L, Valentich was flying just off the coast, at Cape Otway near the Great Ocean Road, when he and his aircraft disappeared forever. The voice recording of Valentich's exchange with Melbourne Flight Service Control in the moments just before his disappearance makes it clear he believed he was being followed by a UFO. 

Valentich asked the flight service officer if there were any military aircraft in the area. Then he described a large object which was "playing some sort of game .... it seems like it's stationary .... and ... is just orbiting on top of me, also it's got a green light and sort of metallic like it's shiny on the outside".

No trace of Valentich or his Cessna has ever been found, despite an extensive air and sea search in the days following the disappearance. The mystery remains and no-one has yet satisfactorily explained away the theory that Valentich met with foul play at the hands of extraterrestrials.

Cape Otway Lighthouse
Cape Otway - Valentich disappeared just off the coast from here.

You might wonder why in this week's blog post I have abandoned our North American road and cycle trip to return to Australia and write about a UFO mystery in Bass Strait. The answer is that David and I have been watching a television drama series called The Kettering Incident. The plot revolves around the disappearance, 15 years apart, of two young girls from a remote community in Tasmania. In the opening scenes we see an old newspaper clipping of the Valentich disappearance. In episode 3 the exchange between Valentich and the flight service officer mysteriously comes over the radio in a car driven by Anna, the main character, and more than one of the characters sees strange lights in the sky. 

We haven't watched the final episode yet but the suggestion so far is something unexplained and other worldly happened to the girls who disappeared. The references to Valentich's disappearance are not explained. Perhaps the film maker thought the incident was sufficiently notorious that it did not warrant an explanation. However many viewers will have never heard of Valentich - I only have because we came across a plaque commemorating his disappearance on one of our road trips along the Great Ocean Road

If, like us, you are watching The Kettering Incident, now you know what the references to Valentich mean. If not, you have learnt a little bit about the sad disappearance of a young man in the sky above the wild waters of Bass Strait - Australia's own 'Bermuda Triangle'.

Do you believe in UFOs?

A transcript of Valentich's conversation with Melbourne Flight Service Control can be found at this link http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread409461/pg1

Next week I promise to return to the US and continue my series on our road and cycling trip with a post on the enchanting Chanticleer Gardens just outside Philadelphia.  Look for the post next Thursday or Friday, depending on your time zone.

If you want to follow our travels check back each week or enter your email address in the 'Follow this blog by email' box in the right hand sidebar just below my profile picture.

34 comments:

  1. A very interesting story. Does Australia have an area 51? Maybe it's in a forest :). As for UFOs, I don't know. If they do exist and governments are hiding them, what a conspiracy!

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    1. There is probably a perfectly logical explanation for the disappearance of Valentich but it is certainly intriguing.

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  2. So interesting Lyn! IU've never heard of this before.

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    1. I had never heard of Valentich either before we saw a plaque at Cape Otway commemorating his disappearance.

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  3. I had never heard of it... not sure what to think but it sure seems likely something we can't understand must have happened

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    1. Plenty of people have tried to find a logical explanation. A few think they have but others aren't so sure.

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  4. That's so funny. Now that you mention it, I remember watching a tv show on it as a kid. Given the date, it actually must have been made not long after it happened...spooky!!

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    1. Wow! I would love to see a show about it. It is such an interesting, if sad, event.

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  5. Wow, that's a really interesting story. One of those things we might never get to the bottom of. I don't know if extraterrestrial life exists, so I'm keeping an open mind about it. I do enjoy X-Files and the like, though ;) Coincidentally, I just watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind last night!

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    1. I haven't watch Close Encounters for years. I remember once being in the USA and seeing a sign to the mountain which featured in the film. I don't think we saw the actual mountain just the sign - lol. One day I want to go to Roswell.

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  6. I hadn't heard that story - so interesting I love UFO stories.
    Years ago my uncle told me how he saw UFO's a mother ship and smaller ships hovering just out to sea (I think he was fishing at the time) his story has even been documented in books about UFO sightings.

    I do believe in UFO's not because of this, but because I question "how can Earth be the only planet in the entire universe to be so perfectly positioned away from a sun to sustain life? There must be more than one planet." So assuming I am right imagine where travel will takes us in many years to come :)

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    1. It would be wonderful to have a glimpse into the future and see where travel might take us. Imagine being a travel blogger on you way to Mars or even further. I suppose we have to leave some adventures for future generations to discover though.

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  7. It is so mysterious, but I am assuming that the plane crashed and those treacherous waters took care of the evidence, but what did he see??? We will probably never know. Like Lydia I remember seeing something about this when I was a kid, I would have been 9 when it happened and I am sure it would have been a hot topic in the news. I do love the memory jolt you have given me.

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    1. Its funny. I have always been interested in UFOs and other 'science fiction' and yet I don't have any memory of the Valentich incident. I would have been old enough to remember - in my early twenties.

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  8. Mysteries always fascinate me! I do wonder if they will ever find out what happened. Now whether I believe or not- depends on the day:)

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    1. Haha - I know what you mean by 'whether I believe or not' depends on the day. I think I am probably a UFO agnostic - very much in the 'anything is possible but I really don't know' camp.

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  9. Fascinating! And I thought UFOs only visited the USA. #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. It is quite remarkable isn't it how 'little green men from mars' and other aliens generally seem to prefer landing in the US. They must have seen too many Hollywood movies I think. However if you have ever seen the movie 'District 9' you would know of course that rather a lot of them visited South Africa a few years ago - lol.

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  10. So interesting! Somehow I guess we missed this plaque at Cape Otway because I certainly would have remembered this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You should have read my blog post on The Great Ocean Rd! I told everyone about the plaque when we first saw it in 2013. It is near the lighthouse at Cape Otway -quite easy to miss though.

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  11. Lyn what a fascinating mystery this is. Happy to report we had no sightings when we traveled the road earlier this year. As to believing in UFO's I certainly think it is possible. With such a massive universe I have a hard time thinking we are the only ones exploring space.

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    1. Sue - You were the inspiration for me writing this post. Thank you. I was a bit lost for a topic this week. We have been away skiing and I wanted something I could write up fairly quickly. Our discussion on Facebook about seeing 'aliens' in the rear-view mirror on road trips made me think of the Valentich incident.

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  12. This is fascinating and I am glad you shared it. I did not know that the Bass strait has such mysteries! By sharing this, you are keeping Mr. Valentich's legacy alive when so many may have forgotten or not even known he existed.

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    1. It is a sad story though, particularly given how young he was. Bass Strait is fascinating. David and I once spent a week on King Island which is in Bass Strait about half way to Tasmania - a really interesting place.

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  13. Such a sad story, Lyn. I feel for his family; what a nightmare it must be for them to forever wonder what happened to him.

    I sure wish I could watch The Kettering Incident here in the U.S.

    I've never been much of a believer in UFOs and aliens, but lately I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I've been a bit hasty with my presuppositions. I've begun to think that here seem to be far too many similar incidents worldwide to discount such things out-of-hand. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm.

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    1. I am pretty sure The Kettering Incident is also being shown in Britain so it might be worth Googling it. Perhaps it will be shown in the US.

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  14. A great teaser of an opening line, Lyn! And what a fascinating mystery right up there with the Bermuda Triangle and other unexplained phenomena. We're always looking for recommendations of movies and drama series to watch so I'll be checking out "The Kettering Incident" to watch as well. How great to live in the age of on-demand info and entertainment!

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    1. The most amazing thing about the opening line is that whatever happened to Valentich - he did say those words.

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  15. UFOs have always kind of fascinated me and this was very interesting. And from what you've written, I really believe it happened! Now I want to see that TV series.

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    1. I remember watching a 1960/70s era serial called 'UFO' when I was a child and I have been hooked every since - totally fascinated.

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  16. I have never heard of this incident, but I know there are many. I don't know exactly what to believe, when it comes to UFOs, but I'm sure it's not always a hoax. There are very many inexplicable events that took place and many of them have been carefully covered by the governments of the respective countries, so it's kind of hard to believe they would go to such an extent if they were all just bad jokes or some people's crazy imagination. Thanks for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Honestly, I don't know. I would call myself a UFO agnostic - not exactly a firm believer but open to persuasion.

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  17. Fascinating! I've never heard that story before.

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    1. My sister, who is a few years younger than me, remembers Valentich's disappearance being reported in the media, but I don't remember hearing about it at the time at all.

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