Valentich’s disappearance: case closed?

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„That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again…it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.“ 

These were the last cryptic words of the young pilot Frederick Valentich before he went missing, having most likely crashed into the ocean.

- Valentich: My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.  - Control officier: You confirm you cannot identify the aircraft?  - Valentich: Affirmative.  -Control officer: Delta Sierra Juliet, Roger, stand by.

Pilot Frederick Valentich experiencing a UFO.

Not stunningly, this event has led to heated debates as well as many premature and unwarranted conclusions from believers in extraterrestrial spacecrafts and debunkers alike.

I recently came across an article from the CSISCOP where it is claimed that the case has now been solved once and for all.

*******************************************************************************

The Valentich Disappearance: Another UFO Cold Case Solved

 

Article

James McGaha and Joe Nickell

Volume 37.6, November/December 2013

What did he see? The missing piece of the puzzle in a strange ‘UFO’ case involving the crash of a young pilot off Australia has been identified.

What is known as the “Valentich disappearance” is a strange occurrence in the annals of UFOlogy, one never satisfactorily explained—until now. One of us (Nickell) was asked to look into the case for a television show, and he queried the other (McGaha) who came up with the missing piece of the puzzle (as perhaps only someone who was both a pilot and astronomer could do).

The story begins in Australia about 19:00 hours (7:00 PM), or shortly after sunset (6:43 PM), on October 21, 1978. A young man named Frederick “Fred” Valentich—who had left Victoria’s Moorabbin airport at 18:19 (6:19 PM)—was piloting a light airplane, a rented single-engine Cessna 182L (registration VH-DSJ) over Bass Strait, heading southeastwardly for King Island. When what he thought was another aircraft seemed to pass over him, he radioed Melbourne Air Flight Service, and spoke with controller Steve Robey. Here is the (slightly abridged) exchange (with punctuation and capitalization
added), taken from the transcript of the audiotape (beginning at 19:06:14):

Valentich: Is there any known traffic below five thousand [feet]?
Robey: No known traffic.

V: I am—seems [to] be a large aircraft below five thousand.

R: What type of aircraft is it?

V: I cannot affirm. It is [sic] four bright, it seems to me like landing lights. . . . The aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.

R: Roger, and it, it is a large aircraft? Confirm.

V: Er, unknown due to the speed it’s traveling. Is there any Air Force aircraft in the vicinity?

R: No known aircraft in the vicinity.

V: It’s approaching right now from due east towards me. . . .
[Silence for 2 seconds.] It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game. He’s flying over me two, three times, at a time at speeds I could not identify.

R: Roger. What is your actual level?

V: My level is four and a half thousand. Four five zero zero.

R: And confirm you cannot identify the aircraft.

V: Affirmative.

R: Roger. Stand by.

V: It’s not an aircraft. It is—[Silence for 2 seconds.]

R: Can you describe the, er, aircraft?

V: As it’s flying past, it’s a long shape. [Silence for 3 seconds.]
[Cannot] identify more than [that it has such speed]. [Silence for 3 seconds.] [It is] before me right now, Melbourne.

R: And how large would the, er, object be?

V: It seems like it’s stationary.1 What I’m doing right now is orbiting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also. It’s got a green light and sort of metallic. [Like] it’s all shiny [on] the outside. [Silence for 5 seconds.] It’s just vanished. . . . Would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got? Is it military aircraft?

R: Confirm the, er, aircraft just vanished.

V: Say again.

R: Is the aircraft still with you?

V: [It’s, ah, nor-] [Silence for 2 seconds.] [Now] approaching from the southwest. . . . The engine is, is rough idling. I’ve got it set at
twenty three twenty four, and the thing is—coughing.

R: Roger. What are your intentions?

V: My intentions are, ah, to go to King Island. Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. [Silence for 2 seconds.] It is hovering, and it’s not an aircraft. [Silence for 17 seconds, open microphone, with audible, unidentified staccato noise. End of transcript.] ( Aircraft Accident 1982. See also Good 1988, 175–77; Chalker 1998, 964; Haines and Norman 2000; Baker 2000, 248)

 
Some versions of the transcript fail to match that of the accident report in important details. For example, instead of “[It is] before me right now,” one source (Chalker 2001, 629) gives “. . . coming for me right now.”

The communication ended about 19:12:49. Although an intensive air, land, and sea search was carried out until October 25, no trace of the Cessna was found. An oil slick discovered on October 22, some eighteen miles north of King Island, “was not established as having any connection with Valentich’s plane”
(Good 1988, 178). The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation released its findings in May 1982, stating that “The reason for the disappearance of the aircraft has not been determined,” but that the outcome was “presumed fatal” (Aircraft Accident 1982). Suicide? Staged disappearance? Alien attack or abduction? Drug runners’ shootdown? Electrical discharge from a cloud igniting gas fumes? There were many “theories,” including those of “psychics” (Chalker 1998, 966–67; “Valentich” 2013). However, none seemed to explain both the disappearance and the lights. To understand what happened, we need to look more closely at Fred Valentich.

The Pilot

Fred Valentich was a twenty-year-old, inexperienced flyer with only about 150 total hours flying time and a class-four instrument rating (which meant he could operate at night but only “in visual meteorological conditions” [Aircraft Accident 1982]). He had twice been rejected by the Royal Australian Air Force, due to inadequate education. Having obtained a private pilot license in September 1977, he was studying part time for a commercial pilot’s license.

Unfortunately, he had failed all five of his exam subjects—not once but twice—and, just the month before, again failed three subjects.
Further, his involvement in three flying incidents came to the attention of officials: once he received a warning for having strayed into restricted air space, and twice he was cited for deliberately flying blindly into a cloud, for which he was under threat of prosecution (Sheaffer 2013; “Valentich” 2013). In brief, Valentich may have been an accident waiting to happen.

 

Valentich with a CessnaValentich with a Cessna, similar to the aircraft he disappeared in.

Moreover, the young pilot was enthralled with UFOs, watching films and accumulating articles on the topic. Earlier that year, according to his father, Valentich had himself observed a UFO moving away very fast. And he had expressed to his father his worry about what could happen if such presumed extraterrestrial craft should ever attack (Sheaffer 2013; “Valentich” 2013). As we shall see, his deep belief in flying saucers may have contributed to his death—and not in the way some saucer buffs imagine.

Some thought Valentich might have staged his disappearance, but the evidence does not support that hypothesis (Good 1988, 180). Nevertheless Valentich did give two contradictory reasons for his flight to King Island: (1) to pick up some friends (as he told flight officials), or (2) to pick up crayfish. However, these reasons were found to be untrue (Aircraft Accident 1982; “Valentich” 2013). Valentich had not even followed standard procedure to inform King Island airport of his intent to land there (“Disappearance” 2013).

So what was Valentich really up to—in addition to wanting to log more hours of flying experience? Possibly he had decided to look for UFOs again but, rather than admit that, offered others more legitimate-sounding reasons for his flight. In short, he may not simply have encountered a UFO but instead went looking for one. If so, his “encounter” is not surprising. As a “True Believer,” observes Robert Sheaffer (2013, 27), Valentich was “probably inclined to assume anything is a ‘UFO’ if he could not immediately identify it.”

So what did the young pilot see? Having clear skies, he described four bright lights that he mistakenly (as he later admitted) first thought were an airplane’s “landing lights” (that is, white points of light). They were above him and—except for his own movements (more on this later)—seemed to be just “hovering.” Then twice and quite correctly, he realized “it” was definitely “not an aircraft.”

As it happens, a computer search of the sky for the day, time, and place of Valentich’s flight reveals that the four points of bright light he would almost certainly have seen were the following: Venus (which was at its very brightest), Mars, Mercury, and the bright star Antares. These four lights would have represented a diamond shape, given the well-known tendency of viewers to “connect the dots,” and so could well have been perceived as an aircraft or UFO. In fact, the striking conjunction was shaped as a vertically elongated diamond, thus explaining Valentich’s saying of the UFO that “it’s a long shape.”

As to the UFO’s other characteristics, the “metallic” or “shiny” appearance could have been due to the power of suggestion alone. Having connected the dots, Valentich would likely have gone on to fill in the area as solid, even “metallic.” We must remember that Valentich’s impressions are those of someone who was confused about what he was seeing.

The “green light” could have been part of this confusion also.
Remember, Valentich’s first description of the UFO involved only four bright white lights; he made no mention at that time of a green one. It could actually have been nothing more than the Cessna’s own navigation light on its right wing tip. That green light—or its reflection on the windshield—could easily have been superimposed onto the UFO sighting.
A witness on the ground, who de­scribed having seen a green light just above Valentich’s plane, had not mentioned that aspect of his story at the time. However, many years later—after the green light was made public—he did mention the detail, but he is only identified by a pseudonym.
Nevertheless, he said (in the words of his interviewers) that “Its color was similar to
the navigation lights on an airplane” (Haines and Norman 2000, 26)! If the Cessna was
indeed close enough to the land as to be seen by the man and his two nieces, there is a simple explanation: that the airplane’s attitude (a steep angle of bank) was such that its right wing tip was up, and so its green navigation light appeared above the Cessna. As the witness stated, the light was positioned “like it was riding on top of the airplane,” and it kept a constant position, according to the witnesses (Haines and Norman 2000, 26). But again, there are problems with the main witness’s description. As his interviewers acknowledge, his “recollection of the angular size of the airplane’s lights is too large by perhaps several orders of magnitude” (Haines and Norman 2000,28). (Incidentally, misreadings by amateur writers have now converted Valentich’s “green light” into multiple “green lights” [e.g., “Disappearance” 2013].)
But what about the UFO’s movements when it was not “hovering”? It is now clear—since we have identified the UFO as probably a conjunction of four celestial lights—that it was not the UFO moving in relation to the plane but rather the opposite: the plane moving in relation to the stationary lights. There is actually evidence from the transcript that this is so. After the UFO has repeatedly seemed to fly over him, Valentich says, “What I’m doing right now is orbiting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me.”
This points to what was really happening to the poor inexperienced pilot. Distracted by the UFO, he may then have been deceived by the illusion of a tilted horizon. That can happen when the sun has gone down but still brightens part of the horizon, while, of course, the rest of it gets gradually darker farther away. This imbalance of lighting can cause the horizon to appear tilted, so that, in compensating by “levelling” the wings, the pilot inadvertently begins—not to orbit (circle), but to spiral downward—at first slowly, then with increasing acceleration.

At a most critical time therefore, when he should have been in fully alert mode, paying attention to his instruments, he was instead engaged in something that was extremely distracting: flying while excitedly focusing on, and talking about, a UFO. This, as we can now see, was a recipe for disaster. With Valentich succumbing to spatial disorientation, his plane (like that of young John F. Kennedy Jr. over two decades later) began what is aptly termed a “graveyard spiral.”

Further corroboration of this may come from the pilot’s statement that the engine was “rough idling”—just seconds away from his final contact. The plane’s moving in a tightening spiral would cause an increase of G-forces with a consequent decrease in fuel flow, resulting in the engine’s rough running. Or, at that point, the Cessna may have already inverted, producing the same effect because that plane had a gravity-fed fuel system.
Not surprisingly, Valentich’s airplane going missing while he was radioing a UFO report prompted talk of extraterrestrials and abduction.
Indeed, it spawned later reports of other UFOs allegedly seen on the night of the Cessna’s disappearance. These provoked a sceptical Ken Williams, spokesperson of the Department of Transport, to tell a reporter, “It’s funny all these people ringing up with UFO reports well after Valentich’s disappearance” (“Pilot Missing” 1978).

Just a month after the disappearance, the pilot of another Cessna sighted the outline of what he believed was a submerged aircraft, but on another pass over, he was unable to confirm that observation (Good 1988, 178).
Now thanks to yeoman’s work by Australian researcher Keith Basterfield,who rediscovered the “lost” official case file, we have new information. As he explains, “parts of aircraft wreckage with partial matching serial numbers were found in Bass Strait five years after the disappearance.” (Qtd. in Sheaffer 2013,27.)

Fred Valentich’s UFO has now been identified. That is, we can show that a group of four bright lights, consistent with his description, was within his sight at the time he was reporting his UFO. This is the long missing piece of the puzzle that awaited solving because the case required expertise from astronomy as well as aeronautics.

The identification underscores the inescapable fact that the disappearance was simply a fatal crash. Ironically, it might never have occurred but for the young pilot’s fascination with UFOs. If not actually the reason for his evening flight, as we suspect, the fascination nevertheless was part of why it ended tragically.

 

We can now reread the transcript of the exchanges between Valentich and an air traffic controller with a new understanding. In our mind’s eye we watch in horror as—distracted and disoriented—the young pilot unexpectedly enters the “graveyard spiral” that carries him to his death.

***************************************************************

As I first quickly read their paper, I thought they had successfully provided a not-implausible explanation of this incident.

After having reread many times their article along other publications on this case, this initial impression progressively dissolved and I came to the conclusion that their debunking endeavor was full of unproven assertions, far-fetched assumptions and that they constantly picked and chose only convenient facts from the report.

I will emphasize in brown the places where I think that more research is called for.

Valentich’s psychological state

Frederick Valentich

A cornerstone of their whole argumentation is summarized by the following sentence:

So what was Valentich really up to—in addition to wanting to log more hours of flying experience? Possibly he had decided to look for UFOs again but, rather than admit that, offered others more legitimate-sounding reasons for his flight. In short, he may not simply have encountered a UFO but instead went looking for one. If so, his “encounter” is not surprising. As a “True Believer,” observes Robert Sheaffer (2013, 27), Valentich was “probably inclined to assume anything is a ‘UFO’ if he could not immediately identify it.” 
Given the fact that Frederick might have had countless other reasons not to reveal his true intentions, the supposition he was hunting for UFOs is a pure speculation.

The statement that he was a True Believer “probably inclined to assume anything is a ‘UFO’ if he could not immediately identify it” is not only unsupported but also flying in the face of the present evidence.

If it was really the case, we’d expect him to shout „There is a UFO above me!“ from the very beginning of his conversation with the flight officer. Instead of that, we find him repeatedly asking about the presence of earthly, human aircrafts during the entire exchange.
„9:06:14 DSJ FS Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic
below five thousand?’
9:06:26 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. I am—seems (to) be a large aircraft below 5,000.

9:07:47 DSJ FS Er, unknown due to the speed it’s travelling… is there any air-force aircraft in the vicinity?~
9:11:03 DSJ FS Melbourne would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got?’ It is
(a type) military aircraft?’

This a really poor fit for the hypothesis that he was a UFO fanatic seeing them everywhere as soon as he could not understand something at once. It is also worth mentioning that he never used the word „UFO“, „Flying saucer“, „otherworldly“ and so on during the whole interaction.

Therefore it seems far more likely that while strongly interested in the UFO phenomenon, he kept a healthy skepticism towards his own experience and wanted to first rule out any earthly explanation before concluding aliens were involved.

The stars as extraterrestrial objects?

A positive argument against a UAP?


If Valentich was willing to first exhaust the possibility that he was encountering a craft from this world, he’d  likely also have been ready to seriously consider that what he was seeing above in the sky were stars and planets, had the evidence been compatible with this theory.

A majestic heavenly landscape above dark hills.

A night sky full of stars.

It is all too easy to use computer models in hindsight for identifying 1,2,3,4,5,8 or even 10 heavenly bodies which would have been bright enough to be mistaken for aircrafts or spacecrafts flying overhead.

It is an entire matter altogether to prove this is what truly happened back then.

While not being very experienced, Frederick had surely flown many other times at night and viewed brilliant stars. Why should we assume he’d have confused Venus, Mars, Mercury, and Antares with a single aircraft instead of just perceiving them as shiny and majestic heavenly bodies separated by a considerable amount of space? Or that he would not have realized his mistake shortly after?

A possible comeback for the authors would be to assert that the four lights must have stemmed from the heavenly bodies because if they really were from a flying object, Frederick would have seen the planets and star besides as well and mention them.

Such a reply would be utterly fallacious. If the pilot had been really witnessing a Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomenon (UAP), his attention would have been focused on it and it would be completely absurd to expect from him to say something like in real-time:

It is [sic] four bright, it seems to me like
landing lights. . . .Farther away, I see Venus, Mercury, Mars, Antares, Sirius and Jupiter. What’s more, the moon is half-full and…“.

No, under such circumstances, he would only mention the weird object he was seeing before his very eyes as it was happening.

Therefore, the fact that four bright heavenly bodies could be identified is NOT a positive argument against the presence of an unknown object having four lights.



I think it’d be great if someone more knowledgeable than me were to
provide us with a map of the sky at this time and place showing us all
visible stars with their luminous intensity.

A necessary (albeit not sufficient) condition for their scenario to be true seems to be that the three planets and star Fred Valentich allegedly mistook for an aircraft stood apart with respect to both their position and brightness.

If (for example) Venus, Mars and Mercury were indeed isolated and considerably brighter than all other stars, whereas Antares was close to the remaining stars and not considerably more brilliant , it would be pretty hard to understand while he singled it out as well.

There is also an apparent discrepancy between Valentich’s statement that „as it’s flying past, it’s a long shape“ (implying it is horizontally long) and McGaha and Nickell noticing that „the striking conjunction was shaped as a vertically elongated diamond“. 

But I really think that this problem is negligible in comparison to the implications of the first part of the sentence (which I have emphasized in pink), as we shall see later.
At this point, it is also worth pointing out that the reasoning of McGaha and Nickell has an illogical structure.

While they apply the word could to pivotal elements of their hypothesis (which I have emphasized in red in the text above), they conclude it is an „inescapable fact“ that the actual explanation of the sighting „has been identified„.

But it is a basic rule of logic that a conclusion can never be more certain than its premises.

So at most, they could have written „while we can’t be sure of anything, a not unlikely scenario has been identified, thereby showing there is no need to posit something otherworldly.“
But as we shall see, their explanation (in and of itself) turns out to be incredibly implausible.

Joyous dancing planets

Several magnificient planets of various colors.

Dancing planets going wild.

The cherry-picking of both debunkers becomes all too obvious when they set out to explain (away) the movements of the „thing“ perceived by Valentich.

If they were right that the young pilot mistook the four heavenly bodies for an aircraft, we would expect them to always remain above him. Just think on lonely drivers or pilots under the impression of being paced by Venus.

Thus, I entirely agree with the authors that IF one supposes that this confusion truly took place, one can perfectly account for the sentence

“What I’m doing right now is orbiting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me.” 

The problem is that it makes absolutely no sense of Frederick describing „the thing“ flying past him back and forth (i.e. leaving his visual field) several times and even „vanishing“ under good visual and meteorological conditions.

The professional „Skeptics“ confidently wrote that the planets just „seemed“ to pass over him and „that it was not the UFO moving in relation to the plane but rather the
opposite: the plane moving in relation to the stationary lights
“ but they didn’t give us the slightest (testable) idea as to how this is supposed to play out.

The whole conversation lasted only 7 minutes and Frederick was flying at 120 miles per hour which means that he covered a distance of 14 miles (23.4 km), or even less if orbiting.

Actually, if one only considers the time interval during which he saw the presumed „planets“ flying over him (such as one minute 6), one even finds a distance of 2.2 miles (3.74 km).

Now it stands to reason that heavenly bodies cannot rapidly leave the visual field of a pilot during such ridiculously short distance and amount of time if he was flying straight ahead.

What can cause someone to see planets or stars pass over him back and forth with a breathtaking speed after only 14 miles?

The next answer would be that Frederick had already started orbiting. But it is  when he described doing so that he saw the „thing“ following his movements above him instead of overtaking him.

If debunkers want to make their incredibly convoluted hypothesis a bit more plausible, they ought to carry out flight simulations showing that:

1) the heavenly bodies formed the right shape

2) Valentich’s moves were such that in only six fucking minutes

    a)  he might have had the impression that the stars flew past him three times

    b) he might have had two times the impression that the stars were flying towards him from another direction

I personally don’t think there is any realist set of maneuvers which could have spawn all these optical illusions.

The only answer I can come up with is full-fleshed hallucinations.

The authors themselves opined that

As to the UFO’s other characteristics, the “metallic” or “shiny” appearance could have been due to the power of suggestion alone. Having connected the dots, Valentich would likely have gone on to fill in the area as solid, even “metallic.” We must remember that Valentich’s impressions are those of someone who was confused about what he was seeing

but I doubt that „suggestion alone“ would suffice for explaining this. The three planets and star would have been naturally seen as remotenocturnal lights“ (to use Hynek’s UFO categories). Yet Valentich’s description raises the strong impression he was rather depicting something far closer to him and much more physical.
So I have reproduced the dialog (along with the temporal data) while emphasizing in green the places where he would have been accurately seeing the star and planets, in red the places where he’d have been probably hallucinating and in pink the places where I think he also would have been hallucinating IF the hypothesis of McGaha and Mickell was true.

I’ve always tried to play to my disfavor while remaining realistic.


9:06:14 DSJ FS Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Is there any known traffic below five thousand?’

9:06:23 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—No known traffic.

9:06:26 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. I am—seems (to) be a large aircraft below
5,000.

9:06:46 FS DSJ D Delta Sierra Juliet—What type of aircraft is it?

9:06:50 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—I cannot affirm. It is four bright … it seems to me like landing lights.

9:07:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. [This statement affirms to the pilot that the person on the ground heard his transmission.]

9:07:32 DSJ FS Melbourne, this (is) Delta Sierra Juliet. The aircraft has just passed over me at least a thousand feet above.

9:07:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger—and it, it is a large aircraft—confirm?

9:07:47 DSJ FS Er, unknown due to the speed it’s travelling… is there any air force aircraft in the vicinity?~

9:07:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. No known aircraft in the vicinity.

9:08:18 DSJ FS Melbourne… it’s approaching now from due east~ towards me.~

9:08:28 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:08:42 DSJ FS //Open microphone for two seconds//

9:08:49 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game.’—He’s flying over me two—three times at a time at speeds I could not identify.’

9:09:02 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What is your actual level?

9:09:06 DSJ FS My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.~

9:09:11 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet… And confirm—you cannot identify the aircraft.

9:09:14 DSJ FS Affirmative.’

9:09:18 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger… standby.

9:09:28 DSJ FS Melbourne—Delta Sierra Juliet. It’s not an aircraft’… it is

//open microphone for two seconds// [This duration measured as three seconds. No information appears to have been removed from the tape.]

9:09:46 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. Can you describe the…er—air-craft?

9:09:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… as it’s flying past it’s a long shape’ //open microphone for three seconds // (cannot) identify more than that.

It has such speed //open microphone for three seconds //. It is before me right now Melbourne.’

9:10:07 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. And how large would the —er—object be?

9:10:20 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. It seems like it’s (stationary).

[Author R.H. has determined that this word should be “chasing

me” based on special filtering]. What I’m doing right now is or-biting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also’ … It’s got a green light,’ and sort of metallic (like)~. It’s all shiny (on) the outside.~

9:10:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:10:48 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet // open microphone for 5 seconds // [measured as 3 seconds] It’s just vanished.’

9:10:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:11:03 DSJ FS Melbourne would you know what kind of aircraft I’ve got?’ It is (a type) military aircraft?’

9:11:08 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Confirm the… er—aircraft just vanished.

9:11:14 DSJ FS Say again.

9:11:17 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Is the aircraft still with you?’

9:11:23 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… It’s ah… Nor //open microphone for two

seconds// (now) approaching from the southwest.

9:11:37 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet

9:11:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet – The engine is, is rough idling. —I’ve got it set at twenty three—twenty four… and the thing is—coughing.

9:12:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What are your intentions?

9:12:09 DSJ FS My intentions are—ah… to go to King Island—Ah, Melbourne,

that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again //open micro-phone for two seconds// it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.

9:12:22 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:12:28 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne //open microphone for 17 sec-

onds// [A very strange pulsed noise is also audible during this

transmission.]

9:12:49 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne.


It should be clear by now that if the theory of the authors were true, Valentich must have been undergoing severe delusions.

It is (statistically speaking) strongly unlikely that a bodily and mentally healthy young man would experience such acute hallucinations out of nowhere, even if one considers his interest for flying saucers.

Thus, if McGaha and Nickel want their hypothesis to become a plausible explanation of this case, they ought to give us evidence that Frederick Valentich suffered from psychotic episodes or that he took psychoactive drugs or had an organic disease capable of spawning such a delirious state.

But in the 30 years following the disappearance of the pilot, no such information ever came to the surface even though one would strongly expect Fred’s former girlfriend, friends and relatives to reveal such crucial facts during this long time period, had they been accurate.

The point of green light which wanted to become a giant

While trying to explain away the greenish nature of the „thing“ encountered by Valentich, the two authors did themselves a great disservice. They selectively quoted parts of a scholarly article analyzing the testimony of two witnesses on the ground having seen both Fred’s small plane and a considerably larger green object above it.


The “green light” could have been part of this confusion also.
Remember, Valentich’s first description of the UFO involved only four bright white lights;
he made no mention at that time of a green one. It could actually have been nothing more than the Cessna’s own navigation light on its right wing tip. That green light—or its reflection on the windshield—could easily have been superimposed onto the UFO sighting.

A witness on the ground, who de­scribed having seen a green light just above Valentich’s plane, had not mentioned that aspect of his story at the time. However, many years later—after the green light was made public—he did mention the detail, but he is only identified by a pseudonym.
Nevertheless, he said (in the words of his interviewers) that “Its color was similar to
the navigation lights on an airplane” (Haines and Norman 2000, 26)! If the Cessna was
indeed close enough to the land as to be seen by the man and his two nieces, there is a simple explanation: that the airplane’s attitude (a steep angle of bank) was such that its right wing tip was up, and so its green navigation light appeared above the Cessna. As the witness stated, the light was positioned “like it was riding on top of the airplane,” and it kept a constant position, according to the witnesses (Haines and Norman 2000, 26). But again, there are problems with the main witness’s description. As his interviewers acknowledge, his “recollection of the angular size of the airplane’s lights is too large by perhaps several orders of magnitude” (Haines and Norman 2000, 28). 


An uninformed reader trusting in their judgment won’t realize that there was a tremendous „cherry-picking“ going on here, whereby inconvenient facts were almost entirely ignored.

Many years after the tragic event, their suggestion that the „right wing tip was up“ is unverifiable: it cannot be proven but cannot be dismissed either and does not sound implausible.

My problem concerns the fact that it is extremely unlikely that this point of light would have been perceived in the way reported by the witnesses, namely as a far broader object.

 The witnesses

The individuals having observed that event from the ground are described as follows:

 „They saw both the lights of a small aircraft and a very large green light traveling directly above it. The primary witness, Mr. Ken Hansen (pseudonym), who was 47 years old at the time, told his wife of what he and his two nieces had just seen on their way home, but she laughed at his story. The following morning at work he told his fellow employees, who believed what he said about seeing the airplane, but not about the large green object flying above it, the details of which are given below. Of course, at this early date, he could not have known anything about Valentich’s description of a green light flying near him. Hansen decided to drop the subject to avoid further ridicule. Years later, he happened to discuss his sighting with a local policeman, who later mentioned the story to Guido Valentich, father of the missing pilot. Guido Valentich then told author P.N., who interviewed Hansen and his two nieces. Both girls gave the same basic details as their uncle.
Site Visit to Apollo Bay
During a visit to the area between Cape Otway and the resort town of Apollo Bay on March 17, 1998, both authors had an opportunity to meet Mr. Ken Hansen (pseudonym), who was then age 67. Hansen lives in the resort town of Apollo Bay. As he had told author P.N. in 1991, he said that he had seen, with his two nieces, an odd aerial event the same night that Valentich had disappeared. We asked if he would take us to his original observation site so that we might reconstruct each step of his sighting. He gladly agreed to do so, during which time he gave us the following information.
Sighting details obtained from Mr. Hansen. Mr. Hansen and his two nieces had been shooting rabbits on the late afternoon of October 21, 1978, in the hills about 2 km west of Apollo Bay in the direction of Marriners Falls. He said that it was dusk, but he could not recall the exact time. They were in his four wheel-drive vehicle driving east on Barham Valley Road toward his home on the southern outskirts of the town. Figure 2 shows an enlarged scale drawing of the road on which they were travelling when they sighted the lights in the sky.
Hansen was driving (in the left front seat), and one niece, Tracy, was sitting in the right front seat. His other niece was in the back right seat. Tracy first sighted colored lights in the sky on their right side. The automobile was travelling about 30 miles per hour at the time in the left lane. Suddenly, she said, “What is that light in the sky?” Point A of Figure 2 shows their location at this time.
As the automobile continued, Hansen craned his neck to look out the right side window in the direction that she was pointing. He caught sight of some lights and said to her, “Those are only the lights of an airplane.” “No,” she replied, “I mean that other large green light above it!” He drove on and then turned to look again some 10 to 15 seconds later. At that point, he also was able to make out two separate sets of lights in the clear but darkening sky. They were now near point B in Figure 2. They continued down the road, although Mr. Hansen was now slowing down because of the left turn ahead and because he wanted to better see the strange set of aerial lights. Mr. and Mrs. Hansen live near a small airstrip located just south of Apollo Bay, and he is knowledgeable about aircraft and the appearance of their lights at night. He noted clearly the familiar lights of a small airplane (white navigation light; red wing-tip light) that were visible. He told us that these colored lights on the aircraft were separated by about the same angle that is subtended by a marble (0.65 inches) held at arm’s length (approximately 22 inches from the eye) or about a 1.7° arc. Both aerial objects had passed through a 30° arc toward the east during this initial sighting interval, which lasted about 28 seconds.
Not wanting to stop on the small bridge crossing Barham River, he drove on at about 20 miles per hour and finally decelerated to zero at point C of Figure 2. The car’s measured transit time from point B to point C was no more than 45 seconds. Although it is not uncommon to see the lights of small airplanes in the vicinity, the presence of the large green light was so unusual that Hansen decided to pull over, stop, and get out of his automobile. He said that when he did so, he clearly saw a second, large, greenish, circular light “like it was riding on top of the airplane.” Its angular diameter was equivalent to that of a tennis ball held at arm’s length (approximately a 6.8° arc), for an angular ratio for the two objects of about one to four. Its color was similar to the navigation lights on an airplane. He also said that it kept a constant distance above and slightly behind the airplane’s lights at all times. He stood watching for another 15 to 20 seconds until both lights disappeared from sight. Thus, the entire sighting from point A to point C-3 lasted about 93 seconds.“

To the best of my knowledge, nobody (not even debunkers) have accused Hansen and his nieces to have made up their whole sighting.

Their story is coherent and make perfectly sense of what we independently know about Valentich’s last hours.

More importantly, they have always remained anonymous and there seems to be nothing they could have gained through such a hoax.

False memory?

The best thing a Professional Skeptic could do would be to call into question the accuracy of their memory. Maybe the green light they saw was a point just like the red and white ones they made out. Many years later they wrongly thought it was extremely larger than it actually was back then.

Small Cessna model flying across a dark sky.

A Cessna at night with its green light.

The problem with that response is that the large green light played the entire role in the sighting.

It was the large green light which first caught the attention of one of the girls, Tracy:

“What is that light in the sky?”
As the automobile continued, Hansen craned his neck to look out the right side window in the direction that she was pointing. He caught sight of some lights and said to her, “Those are only the lights of an airplane.” “No,” she replied, “I mean that other large green light above it!”

Mr. and Mrs. Hansen live near a small airstrip located just south of Apollo Bay, and he is knowledgeable about aircraft and the appearance of their lights at night. He noted clearly the familiar lights of a small airplane (white navigation light; red wing-tip light) that were visible.“

Although it is not uncommon to see the lights of small airplanes in the vicinity, the presence of the large green light was so unusual that Hansen decided to pull over, stop, and get out of his automobile. He said that when he did so, he clearly saw a secondar, large, greenish, circular light “like it was riding on top of the airplane.“

In other words, the largeness of the green light was the very reason why Tracy first got attentive to it and it also was the cause why Hansen pulled over. This is hardly understandable if the green light had been just moderately larger than the two others, as the knowledgeable Hansen would not have failed to have observed during his life.

What is more „The primary witness, Mr. Ken Hansen (pseudonym), who was 47 years old at the time, told his wife of what he and his two nieces had just seen on their way home, but she laughed at his story. The following morning at work he told his fellow employees, who believed what he said about seeing the airplane, but not about the large green object flying above it, the details of which are given below. Of course, at this early date, he could not have known anything about Valentich’s description of a green light flying near him. Hansen decided to drop the subject to avoid further ridicule.“

If the green light he perceived hadn’t been considerably more voluminous than the red and white ones, there would not have been any reason for his colleagues to disbelieve him. They’d just have said: „Yeah, sometimes simple lights can look weird. The plane might have been inclined in such a way that it looked on top of it.“

On the other hand, their reaction would make perfect sense if he told them he had seen a green light four times greater than the distance between the left-wing and tail lights.
To conclude, the „false memory hypothesis“ demands us to believe that:

1) Both Hansen and Tracy forgot the real reason why they stepped out of the car.

2) Months or years later, both developed false memories and mistakenly thought they pulled over owing to the size of the green light in relation to the plane.

3) Either Hansen didn’t say anything to his wife or colleagues back then, or they disbelieved him for unrelated reasons.

4) He also mistakenly came to believe he recounted them it was a really huge green object.

5) During all this time, he never spoke with his wife on this topic so that she couldn’t correct him.

I do know that problems of confused memories are real several years after a happening.

But it stretches credulity to the extreme to think that for such a marking event, they could have distorted the central fact to this incredible extent.

I don’t think that any competent advocate would use such a defense strategy for a criminal case. If one could consider a huge number of witnesses under similar circumstances, I expect only an incredibly small proportion of them to suffer from such mistaken remembrances.

False perception of the size ratio between the two objects

McGaha and Nickell only insinuated that the witnesses might be confused about what they truly experienced at the date of the tragedy.

Likewise, they did not mention at all the actual size ratio between the Cessna and the green object but only (and quite correctly) pointed out that the witnesses were considerably wrong about the position of the plane with respect to the ground they were standing on, apparently expecting their readers to dismiss all other numerical information related to their report.

But they forget one important thing.

It is one thing to wrongly estimate the position of an object flying at a high altitude in the sky.

It is quite another to see the green light of a plane as being 20 times larger than its normal size (equal to that of the red light in close proximity).

As Dr. Richard Haines put it:

It is reasonable to assume, on the basis of psychophysical research data, that Mr. Hansen’s angular estimates were basically accurate in comparing the size of the two aerial objects because they were seen side by side at the same time. Psychophysical research supports this view.
So it is very likely that even if the ratio value of 4 was not precise, the witnesses were at least right in their assessment that the green light was considerably larger than the plane itself.

Hallucinatory experience?

A huge diversity of shapes and colors.

I personally can’t have full-fleshed hallucinatory experience without chemical help.

This leads us to the next possibility.  Maybe they completely hallucinated a green object which actually didn’t exist at all.

It seems however extremely implausible that the three persons would experience the precise same flying hallucination corresponding so well to what Frederick Valentich reported to Melbourne’s flight officer.

A less far-fetched hypothesis would be that they experienced illusions. Since countless persons can experience at the same time the same mirage spawned by a particular set of physical conditions, this scenario does not face the same utter improbability as the hallucinations.

My main objection to it is that I don’t see what combination of physical, physiological and psychological factors can lead three individuals to see two lights of the plane with the correct dimension but the other 20 times or more greater than it actually was.

While I certainly agree it is logically possible, it seems to me to be statistically incredibly rare to happen.

Still, my knowledge isn’t perfect and so I’d be truly thankful to anyone who would challenge me concerning that point and perhaps even prove me wrong.

I feel pretty confident, however, that nobody could show that this specific illusion is likely to occur frequently.

What if the debunking model were true?

To put everything I previously discussed in a nutshell, I’m going to describe the scenario we would most likely expect if the model proposed by the debunkers were true and we’d not know the dialog. I’ve emphasized all differences with the real conversation which took place.


9:06:14 DSJ FS 9:06:14 DSJ FS Melbourne, this is Delta Sierra Juliet. Are you aware of the presence of an unknown thing below five thousand?’

9:06:23 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—A what? Not at all.

9:06:26 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. I am—there seems (to) be a large UFO below 5,000!

9:06:46 FS DSJ D Delta Sierra Juliet—Keep calm. What type of aircraft is it?

9:06:50 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—I cannot affirm. It is four bright … it seems to me like landing lights.

9:07:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. [This statement affirms to the pilot that the person on the ground heard his transmission.]

9:07:32 DSJ FS Melbourne, this (is) Delta Sierra Juliet. The UFO is flying right above me at least a thousand feet above.

9:07:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger—and it, it is a large…aircraft…confirm?

9:07:47 DSJ FS Er, unknown, it seems to be a bit too far for me to distinguish this… is there any UFO activity in the vicinity?~

9:07:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. No such activity in the vicinity we’d know of.

9:08:18 DSJ FS Melbourne… it seems it is descending~ towards me.~

9:08:28 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:08:42 DSJ FS //Open microphone for two seconds//

9:08:49 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet. It seems to me that he’s playing some sort of game.’—He’s following each of my movement and always remains above me

9:09:02 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What is your actual level?

9:09:06 DSJ FS My level is four and a half thousand, four five zero zero.~

9:09:11 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet… And confirm—you cannot identify the…well,aircraft.

9:09:14 DSJ FS Affirmative.’

9:09:18 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger… standby.

9:09:28 DSJ FS Melbourne—Delta Sierra Juliet. It’s not an aircraft’… it is //open microphone for two seconds// [This duration measured as three seconds. No information appears to have been removed from the tape.]

9:09:46 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. Can you describe the…er—air-craft?

9:09:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… It’s hard to say, because he isn’t just above me but far higher. I’d say the spacecraft looks pretty big //open microphone for three seconds //. It follows me, Melbourne.’

9:10:07 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. And how large would the —er—ob-ject be?

9:10:20 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne. It seems like it’s stationary.

What I’m doing right now is orbiting, and the thing is just orbiting on top of me also’ ..It has white lights and his shape is…a bit like…vertically elongated..like a diamond.

9:10:43 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:10:48 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet // open microphone for 5 seconds // [mea-sured as 3 seconds] It makes every of my move.’

9:10:57 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:11:03 DSJ FS Melbourne Are you aware of the UFO wave above our country?’ Is that an invasion?’

9:11:08 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Confirm the… er—aircraft is still imitating your movements.

9:11:14 DSJ FS Say again.

9:11:17 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet. Is the aircraft still with you?’

9:11:23 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet… It’s ah… Nor //open microphone for two

seconds// (now) it’s glittering.

9:11:37 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet

9:11:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet – The engine is, is rough idling. —I’ve got it

set at twenty three—twenty four… and the thing is—coughing.

9:12:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What are your intentions?

9:12:09 DSJ FS My intentions are—ah… to go to King Island—Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is still hovering on top of me//open micro-phone for two seconds// it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.

9:12:22 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:12:28 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne //open microphone for 17 sec-onds// [A very strange pulsed noise is also audible during this

transmission.]

9:12:49 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet, Melbourne.


In the meantime, Hansen and his nieces notice the presence of a small airplane above them. They see his red wing-tip light, his white tail light and his green wing-tip light above (having roughly the same size as the two others) and conclude that the airplane’s attitude was such that its right wing tip was up.

Several days later, they’re shocked as they learn that they probably saw the plane of this young pilot who went missing.

Conclusion: another flying object was there

We have seen that the model put forward by the debunkers presents a terrible fit to the data: it can only account for them by distorting them using many unlikely ad-hoc hypotheses.

There is one scenario which can take into account quite naturally and seamlessly all facts: there really was a flying object above Valentich having both white and green lights it could switch on and off.

The least outlandish candidate I can think of is a purely earthly but secret experimental aircraft. While the object was largely superior to Valentich’s plane, it did not display any ability which would definitely be out of the reach of human technology.

Hence I’d be grateful to any knowledgeable reader who would mention aircrafts which could display the behavior of the object.
Let me finally say I’ve nothing against James McGaha and Joe Nickell personally. I’m sure that in other domains they might be quite outstanding scholars.

But in that particular case, their whole approach was deeply pseudo-scientific.

They reached a firm and allegedly airtight conclusion through a reasoning containing countless untested ad-hoc hypotheses which are often not only unsupported but also utterly implausible.

Still, I’m very far from being infallible.

Therefore, I welcome all comments defending their debunking hypothesis. I shall certainly change my mind if you contradict my assertions with hard empirical data rather than by anecdotes and other ad-hoc assumptions.

Finally, it is vital to remember what my conclusion is NOT. I don’t think we can be absolutely sure that something anomalous was going on even if I consider it very likely.

I don’t know what this anomalous phenomenon was and I tend to believe it was a secret earthly aircraft rather than something otherworldly.

I expect nobody to reach what I concluded. BUT I think that this incident is one of the numerous cases where something really weird occurred in our skies. At the very least, this warrants a full-fleshed and impartial scientific study of UAPs. Regardless of their nature, their systematic investigation could lead to real scientific breakthroughs.

There is a real possibility that something yet unknown is going on.

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10 Antworten zu Valentich’s disappearance: case closed?

  1. Pingback: Homepage | Shards of Magonia / Scherben von Magonia

  2. weetam schreibt:

    a few points i picked up on that i think are worthy of discussion/consideration:

    Firstly, i think, leaving everything else aside, the final outcome of the „graveyard spiral“ is probably the correct conclusion. given the data at hand, and the fact he was distracted, this seems to be the most likely and plausible outcome from an inexperienced flyer, particularly one who seemed very inexperienced at night.

    Secondly, your conclusion are based on the fact the transcript is correct in the way it has been reported, when you also state that there is doubt as to whether this is entirely or largely correct.

    ‚Some versions of the transcript fail to match that of the accident report in important details. For example, instead of “[It is] before me right now,” one source (Chalker 2001, 629) gives “. . . coming for me right now.”‘

    With that in mind, we cannot draw any conclusions based on the conversation, until it is proven factual beyond reasonable doubt.

    Thirdly, i find it implausible, almost laughable that any secret government aircraft, would move closer to another aircraft in the sky several times, specifically one with the capabilities described, and i find it more likely it would shut off its lights and „go dark“ in order to remain undetected, so for me, the secret aircraft theory is a non starter. It is worth noting that i find it unlikely any aircraft, of any origin not terrestrial would do the same. Unless of course that was its intention, to find some poor unsuspecting punter in a light aircraft and „buzz“ him.

    Fourth, you are spot on with your analytics of the „celestial body“ theory. what idiot, even an inexperienced night flyer, cannot tell the difference between planets and stars in the night sky, and an metallic object, 1000 feet above moving at vast speed? no, no, no, no, no. This strikes me as a „we cant find any other explanation, but we need something, so we’ll blame it on celestial bodies and pilot error“ kind of explanation. This does nothing but blame the pilot, rightly or wrongly, we shall never know for sure, although, i sincerely doubt this is the case.

    Fifth, now, i do NOT profess to be a meteorological expert, but its strikes me, that the green light seen by both Valentich and the witnesses, might have been something akin to „st elmo’s fire“ or a build up of static electricity. This quite natural phenomenon, has often been the source of superstition, and has often been seen in many colours, mostly bright blue or violet in colour, and is usually accompanied with a buzzing sound, (perhaps what was heard on the RT?) although this is often seen during a thunder storm, it can be seen whenever static electricity is caused, such as air passing over the wings of an aircraft. (more on this here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Elmo's_fire )

    this, for me, is the most plausible, and most likely explanation for the green light being bigger than the aircraft lights, and being seen by the witnesses as well as Valentich.

    Sixth, whatever he DID see, and report in real time, we shall probably never know. personally, i find it more likely that what he saw was a combination of factors contrived into one explanation. I would be tempted to say he saw another aircraft, if it wasnt for the fact that (assuming the transcript is at least partially accurate) that no other aircraft were reported on radar. I doubt it was a secret military aircraft for the afore mentioned reason, why would it fly around a civilian aircraft, when, by definition, a secret military aircraft is supposed to be a secret, and repeatedly buzzing other aircraft is not really the best way to maintain that secrecy.

    Summary: I have no alternative to offer up as a suggestion with regards to the white lights Valentich saw, but i think we can safely say, that the white lights, combined with the green light, innocent and unrelated as they both may have been, was enough to distract him and disorientate him enough to cause the „graveyard spiral“ which ultimately led to his presumed death/disappearance on that night.

    Whatever they were, i dont think we should read anything too sinister into it, because at the end of the day, he was an inexperienced pilot, who appeared to misinterpret a number of unrelated incidents, which sadly led to his death. Occums razor concludes that often the most simple answer is correct, i believe, in this instance, that that is the case. No UFO’s, NO secret government aircraft, just an inexperienced pilot who became disorientated.

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    • lotharson schreibt:

      Thanks for your answer.

      I think that a better theory would be a yet unknown (electro-magnetic?) natural phenomenon akin to St’s Elmo fire and potentially mistakable for a physical object.
      I find it kind of far fetched but much better than the hypothesis offered by the two debunkers.

      Cheers.

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      • fajita schreibt:

        About the cowl flap that was found 5 years later–apparently, the person who found it admitted that there were two other Cessna aircrafts which also lost parts nearby and that the flap could have belonged to them instead. From the Herald Sun:

        „But according to the-then Flinders Island airport manager Arthur Withers, whose son found the cowl flap opposite the northern runway washed up on a beach at Parry’s Bay, there were another two Cessnas of that type which lost similar parts during takeoff prior to 1983.“

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  3. Anne Jehle schreibt:

    Excellent analysis.

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  4. petedavo schreibt:

    I’ve listened to the radio communication and it only made me more skeptical. I can hear the laughter in his voice. It\s sounds like he was pulling a prank. You can hear the deliberate withholding of his excitement and some parts of his sentences that have sounds like a typical Australian teenager suppressing his laughter. If not for the plane and the pilot not surfacing by now, I’d say based upon the radio alone it was a complete hoax, which would of been extremely easy to do.

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  5. RC schreibt:

    This is based on the accounts of the witnesses. As a kid, what i saw in real life,….many times..years later. What i thought was extremely huge….was actually quite normal when i revisited the house of location. I think the mind can play tricks on everyone. What the witnesses saw that night….years later they thought the green light was huge. In reality , if they could go back to that night…it probably wouldn’t have seemed as big as they imagine it was now. Of course, now they know they saw the plane of the pilot that disappeared . They know what he said….. And a human , without doing it on purpose, might tend to think ….you know, maybe i did see a green light that night. The witnesses brain is trying to connect what he saw to the facts of the missing plane and so by nature, we would tend to debunk the theory or without even actually thinking of misleading anyone…they might have went along with the story of the green light now that they know the pilot is suspected of being abducted by aliens. The green light they thought was so huge, was really not that big when they saw it. They certainly didn’t alert any authorites. If i saw a plane with this huge green light over it……I might pull over so i could step out and observe it more clearly, …. If it was huge, i would definitely be able to tell and i wouldn’t go on my way and then tell my wife. I would probably be very alarmed at what i was seeing and i would go to someone in authority so they could confirm everything i just witnessed. I would be hysterial, i would be shaking and nervous. This eyewitness was not concerned at all. He went home, told his wife…..the next day he told his coworkers who easily brushed it off as nothing more than the lights of an airplane in the sky.

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  6. Erich schreibt:

    Nickell has always got me, I am sceptical in most things, and am glad he ‚debunks‘ as he does, but he seems too smug for someone that just cherry-picks the data he can explain…and ignores the rest…that’s my expression.

    The fact is in all cases of the unexplained we did not witness it and the evidence such as it is can only suggest a hypothesis…I do not believe in God, but I can’t know He exists or not with no evidence, and likewise if some says they’ve met Him, I can’t know if they did: could be a psychotic episode; could be a lie, could be hoax perpetrated by them; could be hoax perpetrated by someone unknown to the witness; or maybe they actually met God.

    Heck, I’ve seen things I can’t explain and it narks me greatly when someone tells me what I saw, whether it be a sceptic or a believer, they were not there, they did not see it, it is wrong for either side to say to me either 1) it can’t be a ghost, they don’t exist or 2) it was a ghost because they do exist.

    A lot of sceptics are as bad as believers, letting their bias colour any debate, science does not say that ghosts do not exist, it says we have no evidence for them, for example, they can’t see that they have the same faith-based flaws as believers.

    As for Valentich, who knows, an oil slick a plane wreck does not make, but it certainly could be the case, and it is more certain that he crashed and sank in the water than he was abducted by aliens…my bias pushes me towards disorientation, for whatever reason, and that is bad for an pilot.

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