On Saturday, October 21, 1978, at 6:19 p.m., 20-year-old Frederick Valentich took off from Moorabbin Airport just south of Melbourne, Australia, for what was supposed to be a routine training and pleasure flight over Bass Strait to King Island. A serious student aviator, Valentich had been flying for two years and had accumulated over 150 hours of solo flying time in his goal to one day become a commercial airline pilot. Although rated for night flying by instrument, the sun was still up, and with clear visibility and good weather, there was no reason Valentich shouldn’t have easily completed this trip, which he’d taken several times before. However, just over halfway through the flight at 7:06 p.m., Valentich contacted Melbourne Flight Service Unit and reported seeing an unidentified craft above him, traveling at high speed and shining four bright lights. Valentich would radio back a few minutes later that it didn’t appear to be any known aircraft, and now it had even more unusual characteristics: it was long, shiny metallic, and a green light was emanating from it. Even more unsettling, this craft he described was deliberately toying with him as it orbited above while his plane’s engine was sputtering. At 7:11 p.m., the last statement anyone would hear from Valentich would be that the object was still hovering and that it was not an aircraft. Valentich and his plane had vanished at that moment, but whether it was an elaborate hoax, a deliberate crash, or merely a misidentification combined with a mechanical failure, no investigation has been able to determine. What is not in doubt is that the case of Frederick Valentich remains one of Australia’s biggest aviation mysteries, if not in all of UFO lore.
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