The VALENTICH File revealed
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".
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.
"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."