The "Truth" Was out There after All - Update on the Valentich Case
Published: 12:47 PM 7/7/2012
An accidental discovery sheds new light on the mysterious disappearance of a pilot in 1978, writes Miles Kemp.
UNLIKE myriad other UFO sightings at the time, the claims of 20-year-old pilot Frederick Valentich could not easily be dismissed as a hoax.
Unlike others who said they had seen strange lights or craft in the sky, Valentich was mid-way through a detailed and recorded description of his sighting when he disappeared forever over Bass Strait.
"It is not an aircraft it is . . . ," an air-traffic control transcript records Valentich as saying at 7.09 and 28 seconds on the evening of 21 October 1978.
Valentich was part-way through a seven-minute conversation with Melbourne air traffic control about the craft.
At 7.10pm and 20 seconds, Valentich said: "What I am doing right now is orbiting and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also it has a green light and sort of metallic, it's all shiny (on) the outside."
A long metallic clanging sound marked the end of the transmission and the beginning of a long battle to have all records of the disappearance made public.
Now a chance discovery of the official file on the disappearance appears to have eliminated the popular theory at the time that Valentich had staged an elaborate hoax disappearance of his single-engine aircraft.
For 34 years, the Valentich family, friends, UFO theorists and the media succeeded only in having a brief summary of the investigation and a transcript of the air-traffic control conversation released. An audio recording of the conversation was released to Valentich's father so he could hear his son's last words - but only on strict instructions it go no further.
Adelaide researcher Keith Basterfield has been following the case since the disappearance in 1978, but had been told by the Government in 2004 the official file had been lost or destroyed. He "found" it when searching through an online National Archives index on an unrelated topic. The file has since been digitised and uploaded on the archive's website.
Mr Basterfield and others had known the 315-page file - the holy grail in the mystery - existed. It had been seen by one researcher on the desk of a Transport Department official in 1982, as he lobbied him for its release. Since then, many have sought it doggedly to see which of the many theories on the mystery - hoax, suicide, staged disappearance, drug-induced hallucination or actual UFO sighting - was given credence by investigators.
What is significant about the file, Mr Basterfield argues, is that for the first time it is revealed that parts of aircraft wreckage with partial serial numbers were found in Bass Strait five years after the disappearance.
Mr Basterfield says Valentich's aircraft serial numbers fell within the range of those found on the wreckage, almost eliminating the theory that the pilot staged his disappearance on the way to King Island.
"There was a lot of public speculation at the time of a hoax disappearance but there is nothing in the 315 pages that even suggests that," he says.
He says transcripts and notes of extensive interviews with those who knew or were related to Valentich, doctors and colleagues virtually eliminate the possibility of suicide.
Most significantly, investigators leave the possibility of a UFO encounter open. Mr Basterfield points out it was investigators, not Valentich or the media, who took the pilot's description of the object and labelled it an Unidentified Flying Object.
UFO theorists also will take heart in one document on the file, which shows that for the first time the head of the Transport Department took the possibility of a UFO encounter so seriously, he suggested his Minister ask the Defence Minister to launch an investigation into the possibility.
"I have read about 20,000 pages of government reports on UFO files and I have never seen such a suggestion," Mr Basterfield says.
In 2004, Mr Basterfield admits to putting the Valentich search on the backburner after a Freedom of Information request was refused because the file had been lost.
He has now discovered the file remains open, long after it had been thought closed in 1983, and the Federal Government has given a commitment to release it to him.
Mr Basterfield, an expert researcher of public documents, says he does not believe in UFOs, nor does he believe the file was covered up. Instead, he says that when asked to choose between a public service stuff-up or a conspiracy, people should opt for the stuff-up. "Put simply, many people within a department will have no idea how their filing system works and where files end up," he says.
Those interested in reading the 315-page official file still need to go out of their way to find it, however, via a seven-step process outlined by Mr Basterfield, which he perhaps charitably denies is another attempt to hide information. He says: 1. Go to http://www.naa.gov.au/ 2. Click on search the collection 3. Click on Begin your search 4. Up comes RecordSearch 5. In the keywords box type VH-DSJ 6. Up comes this file 7. Click on the View digital copy icon.
"The only thing we can say for sure is that the plane and pilot disappeared while he was describing a UFO - which is one of those things that just makes people wonder," Mr Basterfield says.
Over the years, society has been intrigued by the idea of an advanced and intellectual foreign race fully equipped with laser guns and oval-shaped aircraft. Punitha Kumar speaks to local UFO enthusiasts and seeks if 'the truth is out there'
"THE clear blue skies were roaring." This was what the villagers of Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, said when questioned during an extraterrestrial site visit conducted by the National Space Agency (Angkasa) at the beginning of this year.
Angkasa (strategic and international relations unit) head and scientific officer Mohd Zamri Shah Mastor, who was part of a five-man team there, said more than 10,000 villagers believed there were extraterrestrial activities taking place in the vicinity.
"The matter even had political intervention, with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu urging that investigations be carried out as soon as possible as it was scaring the villagers."
After conducting interviews with the locals and recording sounds emitted from nearby surroundings, Zamri's team discovered the "roaring" noises sounded mechanical, had a pattern and were repetitive.
At the end of the day, it was revealed that the sound was emitted by a nearby palm oil factory. The matter was finally solved.
This was one of the many sites Zamri had worked on when investigating the possibility of another life form, apart from the human race.
"Angkasa's stand is never to deny there are other life forms apart from humans, but if there is no proof sustaining claims and allegations of green-eyed monsters, we will not speculate."
Zamri said his team received a few official complaints pertaining to extraterrestrials but investigations were carried out if the matter seemed "worth investigating".
The standard operating procedure, he said, was to assume that all the claims or allegations were true and to deny them only if there was no evidence present backing such claims.
"If the investigation required certain expertise, my team will rope in private researchers and experts or university experts to assist in the matter," he said, adding that Universiti Malaysia Sarawak experts were called in for the Kota Samarahan case.
Zamri said Malaysians generally believed that there was something out there and that Earth was not the only planet with life form.
"Science fiction movies have greatly influenced people in believing that they are not alone," he said.
When Angkasa's research team visited a site, he said cultural and religious ideologies were disregarded. Only scientific measures were taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, Malaysian UFO Network (myUFOnet) co-founder and club president Muzzafar Zabidin said rural areas had more sightings than urban areas.
"I am not sure why there were more sightings in rural areas. Perhaps it's because they were not as busy as urban areas."
He also said light flashes, especially around padi fields or oil palm plantations, were easily detected because of an open sky free of skyscrapers or buildings.
It was reported in 1998, that nine people witnessed a small round light approaching from the eastern sky.
Its shape appeared to be saucer-like with a dome on top. The incident occurred at Simpang Empat, Alor Star.
In 1999, another similar incident reported by a local Malay daily stated that three people witnessed a strange object flying in the sky for two to three minutes before it vanished.
It happened in Kupang, Kedah, and witnesses claimed the flying object was greenish-blue and measuring about four metres in length.
Muzzafar's club comprises of more than 258 UFO hardcore believers and enthusiasts who sometimes meet and give theories from various angles.
"Since its establishment in 1999, the number of members has decreased. Initially, the club had 430 members. Many backed out because they wanted to go on official site visits but, sadly, the club does not organise such trips."
During a trip with several members to Kuala Terengganu in 2006, Muzzafar said he witnessed a strange flying object for 20 seconds before it disappeared completely.
Muzzafar said the country's first UFO online club was established in 1999. It did not conduct any investigation but if members were interested, then the investigation was done solely within their own financial means.
"Our aim for this club is to gather believers and sceptics. We meet and discuss various opinions and knowledge regarding UFOs, from science to religion."
During the winter of 1964 (January I believe) I attended high school in a small town in West Virginia.
The high school was approximately three miles from my home. Having no means of transportation, I either walked or hitched a ride to and from sporting events.
One night at approximately 11:30 I was returning home from a basketball game. At this point I will provide the layout of the area where the incident occurred.
My home was a small farm at the foot of a low ridge of mountains. My father owned the farm up to the top of the ridge. In addition to the normal farm animals, my Dad raised poultry and had two large poultry houses.
The county road was a one lane road going back through the country. From the direction I was traveling, I had to walk across a flat then down a grade and the driveway to our house which was to the right at the bottom where the road curved left.
The driveway ran 100 yards to our house on the right, and on the left of the driveway was an old two-story house which my father used for storage to keep his tools and other items. Next to the house was the first poultry house which was about fifteen feet away.
It was a cold January night, completely cloud-covered, with at least six inches of snow on the ground and visibility was limited to the light reflected from the snow.
As I was walking across the flat there was a strong beam of light which came through the clouds and circled the ground on the far side of the road at the base of the hill. It startled me, as there are no airports within 200 miles from where I lived.
I immediately thought of a helicopter, but there was no sound. I continued to walk across the flat and a second beam of strong light came through the clouds and circled the ground again. There was nothing visible to me as there was complete cloud coverage and it was quite dark.
Continuing on, as I was walking down the grade of the county road to get to the driveway, a third beam came through the clouds and circled the ground at the same spot. This was no more than 75 yards from where I was walking and about on the same level with me.
I continued on home and went to bed. The next morning while eating breakfast, I told my Mom what I had seen. She then relayed to me that about a half hour before I came home my Dad was awakened by a light reflecting in the mirror in the bedroom.
He looked out the window and saw a white light about waist high between the old house and the poultry house.
Believing that someone may be trying to break in the old house, he pulled on his boots and grabbed his shotgun and took out of the house. He decided to circle the poultry house from the far end and come in from behind.
As he cleared the poultry house, the light he saw appeared from between the two buildings and began moving up the hill toward the spot where I had seen the beams circle the ground.
Understand that there was a woven wire fence at the base of this hill to restrict animals. The light continued uninterrupted through the fence moving up the hill.
A second light appeared from the corner of the fence where the fence intersected the county road and began moving up the hill. There was a third light already in place on the side of the hill where the two lights were headed.
When all three lights met, they disappeared. As I stated in the beginning, when I came home shortly thereafter, that is when I saw the beams circling the ground through the clouds at the same spot. I can remember this incident very clearly today.
Triangle UFO with Faint Sound Seen over Columbia, South Carolina
Published: 6:38 PM 7/6/2012
Columbia, South Carolina - February, 2012
BJ, I wanted to submit a follow up to the sighting I submitted back in February of this year. Please post the following:
In February 2012 I reported an unknown aircraft flying low and performing maneuvers which were uncommon for aircraft in my area. The lighting and characteristics of this aircraft made me think it was something unusual.
I reported it as an unknown at the time. A few weeks ago I believe I encountered the same aircraft over my neighborhood. I was sitting in my living room watching TV, I can't remember the date, but the time was around 9:30 PM.
Through the window blinds I noticed the bright lights of something flying low behind my house. I immediately went outside to see what it was. It appeared to be the same aircraft, but I can't be certain.
It had three distinct white lights on three corners with one blinking red light in the center. The color of the craft was completely black and blended into the night sky perfectly.
If it wasn't for the lights in the corners I wouldn't have been able to discern its shape and I certainly wouldn't have been able to see it. It was your typical black triangle, the kind that has been reported for years.
This time, which was different than the original sighting, there were no air conditioning units running. It was quiet outside. The craft was flying pretty low, so I listened as best I could to see if I could hear any noise from it. This time I did.
It was very faint, but I could hear what sounded like jet propulsion coming from the craft. The sound was extremely low, way lower than I would expect from anything flying at such a low altitude and as slowly as it was going. I watched it fly off in a southwesterly direction.
I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from this experience. I was in the Air Force for 10 years. I worked closely with aircrew personnel and have seen the majority of aircraft in our inventory as well as foreign military aircraft.
This object was outside of anything I've seen before. First, the lights were not in any configuration I've seen. There were no green and red lights on the wing tips; only the white lights on three points and the flashing red light on the bottom. The shape was a perfect equilateral triangle.
The only aircraft I know of that come close to this shape are the stealth fighter and bomber; neither of which are perfect triangles. The craft flew very low and slow. It was hard to make out the size, but it was definitely larger than a Cessna and smaller than a commercial airliner.
Regardless of the size, anything flying that low and slow would require a lot of thrust to keep it in the air thereby creating a lot of noise.
This craft barely made any noise at all, but there was some. Every witness account I've ever read concerning black triangles report no sound coming from the object.
Is it something man-made? Or does it have unknown origins? I can't really say at this point. One thing I can say is that it creates an impression as it flies over.
I don't think it would matter who you are, if it flies over you, you won't be able to help but look at it. It is very eye catching as it flies across the sky.
There is no attempt to conceal itself from people on the ground. However, it only seems to fly at night. I suppose it could very well be some type of secret aircraft.
I just find it hard to believe the military would risk flying it over residential areas. I'm going to keep watching, I have a feeling I'll see it again.
Farmer Edwin Fuhr's Strange Sighting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Published: 4:54 PM 6/30/2004
Langenburg, Saskatchewan, Canada - September 1, 1974
From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix - June 13, 1992
Some residents of Langenburg a farming community about 70 kilometers southeast of Yorkton, believe they can create a tourist attraction based on an eerie event that occurred in a farmer’s field near the town in 1974.
On Sept. 1 1974, the skies were grey and threatening, but Edwin Fuhr was on his swather in a field of rapeseed (now called canola).
Moving up a small incline, he glanced up to make sure he would skirt a grassy, dried out slough just ahead when he spied something made of metal in the grass.
His first thought was that someone was playing a joke on him or had dumped junk in the old slough.
As the swather moved up the incline, the slough came into full view. The metallic “something” was one of five machines rotating rapidly and hovering just above the grass.
Fuhr, startled, stopped his swather, climbed down and took a few steps toward the hovering machines. Then, overcome with fear, he stopped and began slowly to ease back to his idling swather.
The machines continued to hover and spin, then slowly lifted. About 100 feet above ground, they maneuvered into an echelon formation and rose at a much greater speed. Each vented a brief puff of smoke and in seconds. Disappeared over the horizon.
At the controls of his swather, Fuhr was almost paralyzed with fright and barely able to put the machine into gear. At lunch, he was unable to eat. When he inspected the site where the strange visitors had been, he saw five circular depressions.
Most of the tall grass was pressed down, and, in places, was twisted as it would be by a spinning object. The circles were exactly 11 feet (3.3 meters) in diameter and there was unflattened grass in the centre.
The shaken farmer reported the incident to the RCMP. In a few days, a newspaper story brought hordes of curiosity seekers to the farm, all expecting to see the landing site. Fuhr could not allow that because the estimated 3,000 people who arrived would have pulverized his crop.
Fuhr said the mystery machines were made of what looked like stainless steel, but had a “brushed” finish. Each was about five feet (1.5 metres) high at the peak of its dome-like structure.
There were no windows or portholes, no antennae or other projecting parts except something resembling a short exhaust pipe, the source of the vapor the objects emitted as they rose through the overcast.
The Centre for UFO Studies in Illinois sent a specialist to the farm and he found no reason to dispute Fuhr’s report.
Cpl. Ron Morier of the RCMP concluded that the five circles were caused by “something exerting what had to be heavy exhaust or air pressure. Whatever was in there came out of the air and departed the same way, as far as I could tell.”
Edwin Fuhr still lives in Langenburg where he’s regarded as a dependable, quiet spoken citizen not given to inventing tall tales. As one businessman said at the time of the incident, ”If that’s what Edwin says he saw, that’s what Edwin saw.”
Today, portions of the rings made by the strange machines are still visible on his land. About three years ago, there was a report of two UFOs that hovered briefly over Langenburg.
From the Star Phoenix - September 10, 1974
Saucer sighted, no hoax - RCMP
LANGENBURG (CP) - RCMP Constable Ron Morier says he doesn't think a district farmer is trying to pull a hoax with his claims of seeing saucer-shaped objects hovering about a foot over a slough near his rapeseed field six miles north of here.
Edwin Fuhr, 36, claims five stainless steel objects stayed for 15 minutes before leaving. He says there were depressions in the foot-high grass about 11 feet in diameter where they had been.
Constable Morier visited the farm Monday in this community 120 miles northwest of Regina for a first-hand look.
"They took me out to where they'd seen these things in the grass. I saw the rings..." "Something was there and I doubt it was a hoax. There was no indication anything had been wheeled in or out and Mr. Fuhr seemed genuinely scared."
Constable Morier took photographs and measurements and sent his information to the National Research Council in Ottawa.
"Some farmers are afraid to work in their fields," the Constable said, "At least that's what I hear on coffee row."
Mr. Fuhr says he got down from his swather and moved to within 15 feet of the objects.
"All of a sudden I noticed the grass was moving... turning near this thing. I just watched it for about two minutes and then noticed the whole thing was turning."
"I backed up slow. I wasn't going to turn my back on the thing. When I got back to the swather, I noticed there were another four to the left of me, all revolving. I just froze on the seat and didn't move."
"I was terrified. I froze. I couldn't do anything."
"Then they took off (after 15 minutes)... straight up. There was a grey vapor coming from underneath them and a strong wind. I had to hang on to my hat and it knocked the rape down."
It took two minutes for the objects to disappear into the clouds and another two minutes for Mr. Fuhr to come down from his swather.
"I wanted to be sure they were gone."
He then explained the circular depressions left by the objects. "I felt the grass to see if it was warm. There was nothing you could feel and there wasn't any smell."