UFO researcher George Simpson (right) and mechanic Mike Hodges, who serviced Fred Valentich’s Cessna 182. Picture: Jay Town
UFO researcher George Simpson (right) and mechanic Mike Hodges, who serviced Fred Valentich’s Cessna 182. Picture: Jay Town

UFO Mystery: Vanished pilot’s ominous prophecy

FORTY years since his baffling disappearance off the coast of Cape Otway, Victorian pilot Fred Valentich's fiancee has revealed an ominous conversation she shared with her boyfriend only a day earlier.

Rhonda Rushton has spoken for the first time about his unsettling final words to her, admitting she has been unable to move on from the tragedy ever since.

Ms Rushton said despite his plans to set a course across Bass Strait, the 20-year-old admitted he was fearful of ­flying over water.

"I found that a bit strange," she said.

"But it was clear he had some sort of gut feeling."

Despite an extensive air and ground search, no trace of Mr Valentich or his plane were ever found after he took off from Moorabbin airport on October 21, 1978.

But it would be the transcript of his final conversation with an air traffic controller that would confound investigators and spark one of ­Australia's most enduring ­aviation mysteries.

Mr Valentich told Melbourne air traffic control he was being followed by a long metallic, unidentified aircraft with four bright lights which at times moved at high speed or orbited above his plane, ­before reporting his engine was failing.

"It seems to me that he's playing some sort of game," he told air traffic control. "He's flying over me two, three times at a time at speeds I could not identify.

"Melbourne - Delta Sierra Juliet. It's not an aircraft."

Critics claimed Mr Valentich was either disorientated and crashed or may have even faked his disappearance.

But Ms Rushton said they were never theories she or his family were comfortable with.

"Anybody who knew Fred understood just how honest he was," Ms Rushton said.

"He would never make something like that up.

"If that's what he said he saw - that is what he saw."

Fred Valentich.
Fred Valentich.

The disappearance of Fred Valentich has become one of the most enduring aviation mysteries in Australian history - and one of the world's most popular UFO conspiracies.

News Corp Australia


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