The mystery of the pilot who disappeared in the air: the theories about a UFO and the triangle of the Tasmanian Devil

After hearing the description of how a “long and metallic” object was spinning at high speed, Melbourne controller Steve Robey only heard a scratch, and the transmission was cut off. On the other side, the young Frederick Valentich uttered the last words that would baffle investigators for 44 years: ” It’s coming at me again, it’s coming, and it’s not a plane,” he warned aboard his rented Cessna 182L, and, from that moment on, October 21, 1978, never seen again.

“UFO Mystery”

Lovers of the UFO phenomenon have found in this story a fascinating mystery after the case made the front page of an Australian newspaper with this headline: “ UFO Mystery.” Even the young man’s father preferred that his son had been abducted by aliens and was still alive because they found no trace of him. This man genuinely believed that Frederick had been held by “people from another planet” and hoped that he would be returned to him.

With the spread of the story, so-called witnesses soon came out, saying they had seen a flying object at Cape Otway. Colin Morgan, a ship’s captain, and his wife said a dazzling light emanated from a bright object for nearly an hour near Geelong. The details matched what Frederick had given at last contact. The authorities refuted all these versions.

The Tasmanian Devil Triangle

One of the most infamous areas, which even appears in science fiction movies and has inspired thousands of stories, is the Bermuda Triangle. In this case, reports from the time suggest that the young man was a victim of the Tasmanian Devil’s Triangle.

The mystery increased when a plumber, who was on vacation with his wife, identified as Roy Manifold, came forward with photos taken 20 minutes before Frederick’s last radio communication. He assured that he wanted to portray the sunset and that he noticed something strange when developing because the fourth image showed a “black lump” that seemed to shake the sea, while the sixth was a dark mass that rose above the sky.

A farmer stated that a small aircraft was leaking oil and etched the aircraft’s tail registration number on his tractor, which matched the missing Cessna.

The photo they presented as evidence of the disappearance of Frederick Valentich
The photo they presented as evidence of Frederick Valentich’s disappearance / Photo: YouTube – VUFOA-TV Victorian UFO Action

He was a UFO fan

Young Frederick had dreamed of being a pilot and loved all things UFOs. His girlfriend said that he was convinced that they would visit him. But beyond his passion, he was rejected by the Royal Australian Air Force and failed the commercial pilot exams. His private pilot’s license was also questionable, as he had three violations.

That night, he was cleared for the flight with only 150 hours to back it up. On October 21, 1978, he rented a Cessna and presented his plan to travel 121 miles to King Island. He told the authorities that he would pick up some friends and even load four life jackets, although this was later discovered false, and the real reason for his flight was never known.

The disappearance of Frederick Valentich disconcerted for several years
The disappearance of Frederick Valentich disconcerted for several years / Photo: The Sun.

It took off from Moorabbin, near Melbourne, at 6:19 p.m. with a full tank. At 7:00 p.m., he reported his location, but six minutes later, he called controllers with a question: “Is there any known traffic below 5,000 feet? ”. They responded negatively, and then he described a “large plane” with bright lights that appeared to be landing.

Frederick assured that they passed over it at an unknown speed: “ It seems that it is stationary, what I do now is to orbit, and the thing goes on top of me. It also has a green light and a kind of metal as if it were all shiny on the outside ”. Later, he said he “vanished” and reappeared from the southeast.

He then reported engine failure: His last words, at 7:12 pm, were: “I intend to go to King Island. Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering above me again…it is hovering, and it is not a plane.”

Later, eight military planes searched the area but found nothing. The police report on the accident in 1982 determined that the cause of the disappearance could not be found, sparking multiple theories. Some believe that he simply became disoriented and that the lights he saw were planets, but that, distracted by the UFO search, he did not concentrate on the activities of his flight. This story never found closure, not even today, 44 years after his disappearance.