Thursday, June 28, 2012

The VALENTICH File revealed

After 34 years and due to the tenacious efforts of Adelaide based researcher Keith Basterfield, we can all now look at the previously restricted Department of Transport file V116/783/1047, available in digital form at the National Archives of Australia web site.  I last saw this file back in late 1982 while siting in front of Mr. A. Woodward at the Melbourne office of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation.  He had the file open in front of him while answering my questions.  I was trying not to be too obviously seen reading the file in its upside down perspective.

From my blog entry from October 24, 2008:
The Valentich mystery is punctuated with haunting, or rather more appropriately, taunting clues, that sets one off in all sorts of conflicting directions. Many have come up with all sorts of final solutions, that vary from the bizarre to the sublime. Did a UFO abduct Valentich? Did Valentich contrive the whole affair? Did he, as many think, crash into Bass Strait, leaving no trace? Or are other prosaic explanations involved? A multitude of various lines of enquiry radiate out in all sorts of directions. Most take us away from the facts of the matter, namely that no trace of pilot or plane have yet been found. The mystery resonates in the Australian consciousness in a place reserved for more mythic episodes like the haunting fiction of "Picnic at Hanging Rock". It has inspired dramatic works like the profound and confronting play "Sky" and the bizarre and striking TV mini-series, "Locusts and Wild Honey". 
From my "UFO Sub Rosa document:
In November, 1982, I was finally given official permission to examine the Department of Aviation UFO files, but was specifically denied access to the Valentich files on the grounds that they were Air Accident Investigation files and not UFO files.  Mr. Hughes of Air Safety elaborated, "the file concerning this occurrence is no more or less restricted than any other accident investigation file.  As a signatory to the International Convention on Civil Aviation, we subscribe to the Standards and Recommended Practices contained in Annex 13 to the Convention, in respect of aircraft accident investigation, specifically, when it is considered that the disclosure of records, for the purposes other than accident prevention, might have an adverse effect on the availability of information in that or any future investigation, such records are considered privileged." While in Melbourne examining the Aviation Department's UFO files, I was able to have a lengthy discussion on the Valentich affair with Mr. A. Woodward, the signatory on the official Aircraft Accident Investigation Summary Report, dated May 27th, 1982.   He largely reiterated the official department line, emphasising that they were treating the matter as only an "air accident" investigation.  He dwelt on a long list of prosaic explanations ranging from diorientation, suicide, to the unlikely prospect of the plane being struck by a meteorite, but conceded that the affair was still unresolved.  
Back in 1996 in my book "The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story" I concluded:
"So there is much that suggests a UFO connection with the disappearance of (Frederick) Valentich, but unfortunately a final answer eludes us, preventing the comfort of certainty... We must remember that a family waits for an answer that so far has never come.  I hope that some day they will find that answer." 
The newly released files provide some hints at some possible answers and it maybe that ultimately the answer may not involve UFOs.  While deep detailed analysis of the data released and reconciling that with the extensive research done on the case by researchers over the years, we may be able to come up with a final answer. But for now Frederick Valentich and the Cessna plane are still missing so final closure may yet elude those who want to know.