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I cover a decent amount of missing persons cases on this show, and these are always the most frustrating stories because of all the things we just don't know, like when someone vanishes without a trace. That's pretty literal. We have to use our imagination to figure out what could have possibly happened. But that's what makes Frederick Valentijn unique. He was a pilot who went missing in 1978 and he actually called ground control and narrated his own disappearance for six and a half minutes.
But that's not even what makes him so famous. His recording just might be the best evidence that aliens exist. This is Supernatural APAs cast original, and I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers, every Wednesday, I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Precast and Twitter at Podcast Network.
This week I'm talking about a pilot named Frederic Valentijn. In 1978, he disappeared while flying off Australia's southern coast. And before he vanished, he described what sounded a lot like an alien abduction. We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. In October of 1978, Frederick Valentijn is a pilot in training, working on getting his commercial pilot's license. He's already logged like one hundred and fifty hours of flying time and he has a class for instrument rating, which basically means he has to make regular contact with ground control.
Other than that, he's good to fly alone, which is what happens on the evening of October 21st. Frederick goes to the Moorabbin Airport. He's planning on meeting up with some friends on King Island, which is a quick hour, maybe hour and a half fly off the southern shore of Australia.
He even mentions to one of the airport personnel that he wants to pick up a crate of crayfish to bring home. And, of course, the trip will get him more hours under his belt before he leaves. Frederick does the pre-flight check. He looks over his Cessna 182 el airplane rental and confirms that everything's in good order. Then he grabs multiple life vests to bring with him, which isn't that unusual since Frederick's been known to give rides to his friends.
By the time he takes off, it's about six 19 p.m. so well before sunset this time of year and for most of the first hour, everything goes smoothly. Frederick makes his routine calls to ground control. The night is clear. The weather is beautiful, just your typical flight. But at seven 00, six p.m., something weird happens. Fredriks soaring over Bass Strait, which is this stretch of water that separates Australia's southern coast from the island of Tasmania.
And suddenly he spots another aircraft. It's impossible to miss it because it literally zooms right above his plane and out of sight.
Now, this really spooks Fredric like the other plane almost hit him, and in no way is this normal. So he immediately calls the Melbourne Flight Service, which is basically ground control, to ask if anyone else had filed flight plans in the area. So they check the records and know there shouldn't be anyone else out there. Of course, ground control wants to know what this other plane is. So they ask Frederick all these questions about how big it is and what it looks like.
But the whole thing was so sudden, Frederick said he couldn't make out the details. All he remembers is that the bottom of this aircraft had four lights arranged in a rectangle.
He says they looked like landing lights.
So Frederik's still on the line trying to figure out what just happened. But then he sees the other aircraft again and it's heading right back towards him. It passes Frederick a second time. Only this time it doesn't disappear. It immediately turns around and comes back and then it does the same thing over again. It keeps swooping past Frederick over and over. He tells ground control that it feels like the other aircraft is playing some kind of game with him.
At this point, ground control is completely baffled and it's not like they can really help Frederik. All they can do is gather information. So they ask Frederick again if he knows what kind of aircraft it is. And Frederik answers. It's not an aircraft. It is.
And we don't know how that sentence ends because this huge burst of static drowns out whatever he was going to say. In fact, if you read the transcript of Frederick's call, there's a lot of sentences that get cut off or don't seem to have been recorded. In any case, by this point, Fredriks probably thinking like I'm not flying all the way to King Island with this weird, aggressive thing following me. So he tells ground control that he's orbiting, basically just flying in circles until he could figure out what to do and the other aircraft starts orbiting to it, staying right above Brodrick, matching his plane move from move.
This creeps Frederick out even more, but the good news is the other ship is just stationary enough that he can finally get a good look at it. He tells the Melbourne Flight Service that it's long and shiny like it's made of metal. And now he can spot a fifth like a green one.
Frederick doesn't say where this light is on the aircraft, but either way. Ground control is at a complete loss as to what it could be. So they literally ask him, what do you want to do? Frederick responds that he's going to keep going with his original plan. He wants to land on King Island. Now, keep in mind, this encounter hasn't gone on very long. It's seven, 10 p.m., not quite five minutes since he first called the Melbourne Flight Service.
So he's not running out of fuel or anything, but Frederick just wants to get out of there. So he pulls out of his orbit and heads in the direction of King Island, at which point he announces that the strange ship has just vanished. Ground control doesn't know what to make of that. They ask him to repeat the message and Frederick says it again. The ship is gone for the next 45 seconds. It seems like this whole weird ordeal is over.
But then Frederick sees it approaching again. It's back to that weird game where it's darting back and forth above him. And now Frederick says that his engines are sputtering out almost like the other aircraft is somehow interfering with his plane. Either way, he's not going to last much longer. Ground traffic control as Frederick to explain where he's headed. If the worst happens, they want to be able to send rescue teams to his location in Bass Strait. And Frederick starts answering their questions.
But he's got to be getting nervous because he says the engine is coughing, which probably means it's still sputtering and clacking like is about to shut off. His last recorded words are, quote, That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It's hovering and it's not an aircraft. And quote, the moment Frederick finishes talking, he apparently disappears from ground controls radar, which might sound like Fredriks crashed, but he definitely didn't because his radio is still broadcasting.
In fact, the line stays open for another 17 seconds, which means Frederick has to be holding down the button. He's intentionally broadcasting whatever's going on. So Melbourne knows the plane hasn't crashed into the water because they definitely hear that over the radio, but they can hear some weird sounds. First, there's the static that's been ongoing ever since Frederick called ground control. But underneath the crackles and pops, there's also this weird, almost like metallic clanging sound.
That noise persists for a few seconds before the line finally just goes dead. At this point, ground control has no idea whether Frederick is dead or alive. Like for all they know, the plane could have crashed after the radio turned off or it could still be up there. So they report a missing airplane and they immediately dispatched search and rescue personnel to Bass Strait. But now it's after sunset, too dark to really see anything. So after a few fruitless hours of searching, they call it off for the night.
It's not until the next morning that they start looking for Frederick in earnest. And we're talking eight civilian planes and an Air Force reconnaissance craft all together. They cover 1000 square miles, but they find nothing.
And I should mention that Bass Strait is a super busy place. There's always tons of commercial planes and ships traveling back and forth between the Australian mainland, King Island and Tasmania. The federal Transport Department notifies all of them to be on the lookout for any sign of Frederick and his Cessna. But no one sees anything, which is especially weird since parts of the Cessna were actually designed to be buoyant. So even if Frederick's plane crashed to the bottom of the ocean, part of its frame should have floated back up to the surface.
But instead, there's just no sign of wreckage or debris. So by all appearances, Frederic disappeared without a trace. Except that's not entirely true, because before Frederick went down, several eyewitnesses claim they actually saw him and he wasn't alone. Up next, the testimonies about Fredriks disappearance. Hi, listeners, I'm Kate from Sparkasse Network, and I'm here to share about an all new original series that will send shivers up your spine called Haunted Places Ghost Stories.
Starting October 1st, we're bringing you the scariest, most hair raising ghost stories ever imagined. Join host Alistair Murden as he resurrects fictions from all over the world, including Japan and India and even ancient Rome, and brings to life a new heart racing tale every Thursday. Don't miss stone-Cold classics like The Kitbag by Algernon Blackwood, a sinister account of a condemned murderer's final wish and the lengths he'd go to fulfill it. And the misere. A Spanish tale of a wandering musician who hears a terrifyingly beautiful song in a burned out monastery and is doomed to capture its notes until he dies.
You can find and follow haunted places, ghost stories free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And don't forget, October is our favorite month and one of our busiest. So make sure to search Sparkasse network in the Spotify search bar to see all our new shows. Now back to the story. It's the morning of October 22nd, 1978, and Frederic Valentijn has been missing for about 12 hours. Search and rescue teams are scouring Bass Strait for any sign of his Cessna airplane, but so far, nothing.
At one point, they spot a large oil puddle, but they run some tests and it doesn't match the jet fuel in Fredriks Cessna.
Besides, there's no way a small airplane could leak that much. So they dismissed the puddle. It's not from Fredriks Airplane, but it's super weird that this oil slick is the only thing search and rescue teams find. Like if there was a crash, there should be some sort of debris. Naturally, all these wild theories start flying. I mean, the strange lights, the radio interference, the inexplicable disappearance, it sounds exactly like an alien abduction. And when reporters catch wind of the story, that's exactly how they frame it.
It's barely been a day in the Australian airwaves and newspaper stands are flooded with theories about UFOs and extraterrestrials. And you'd think that would drive off readers because the story's so out there. Right. But people eat it up by the morning of October. Twenty third, two days after Frederich went missing. His disappearance is an international front page headline. And as the search continues, some eyewitnesses come forward. One eyewitness account happened the evening after Fredriks disappearance. Australian's Department of Transportation gets a call from this guy.
We don't know his real name, but their paperwork calls him PPFA for reports that he saw something in the sky at six fifty five pm on October 21st. That's about 10 minutes before Frederich first called air traffic control.
According to Farr, he was headed out of a Melbourne suburb called Mount Waverley, driving south toward Bass Strait. When he sees something he describes as a scintillation, there's about 30 bright lights falling like rain, each with a brilliant exhaust trail. At first, for thinks it's a meteor shower. But when he hears about Fredriks disappearance, he thinks that maybe what he saw was something more otherworldly. And sure, that's a big leap to make. But for what it's worth, far doesn't seem like a UFO fanatic.
In a formal report, he makes a point to say that he doesn't buy into stories about little green men. The official testimony says, quote, He did not wish to create the opinion that he was a nut, end quote. Plus, far is not the only witness. On the night of Frederik's disappearance, another man named John Snow was with his family on their way to Barwon Heads, which is this like coastal town near Bass Strait. They're driving along at 11, 45 p.m.
About four hours after Frederich disappears, when John Sutton sees this greenish white light zoom across the sky. Now, to be fair, nobody sees anything except for this 11 year old boy. But John still thinks this is credible enough to report it to authorities. And for all we know, this could have been the same aircraft with a green light that Frederick saw. But the wild testimony actually comes from an anonymous farmer in Adelaide, more than 450 miles away from Bass Strait.
He reports that he saw a flying saucer on the morning after Frederick went missing. So definitely enough time for an aircraft to travel that far. And the farmer claims that it was huge, close to a hundred feet in diameter. He said it was just hovering over his property and according to him, there was a Cessna airplane stuck to it.
The farmer claims that he even wrote down the plane's registration number and he won't come right out and say if the registration matches Fredriks, but he's otherwise confident that they're the same plane. Now, obviously, this sounds a little suspicious because for all we know, Frederick's plane was disintegrating in the last few seconds of the recording, that part where the engine was coughing. Also, this guy didn't speak up until way after Frederich story became a national news phenomenon.
So it seems a lot more likely that it could be a hoax.
But there is one more account and it's really hard to dismiss. The same night Frederik went missing, a photographer named Roy Manifold and his son Jason were on this lookout over Bass Strait. Roy wants to capture the sun setting into the water. And incidentally, his camera is pointed right at the spot where Fredriks supposed to go down later that night at precisely the right moment when the lighting is beautiful, Roy snaps a few photos, then he walks over to a shed to take care of the film while he's gone.
Jason hears this sound overhead, kind of like an airplane. But when he looks around, he doesn't see anything. Jason doesn't think much of it until all of a sudden the noise goes silent like the engine dies. Jason doesn't say anything to his dad, but later they look at the developed photos and one of them stands out. The photos pretty blurry. So it's hard to say what's going on. But there's definitely something in the upper right hand corner.
It's suspended in midair and it's sort of tall and flat at the bottom, but rounded at the top. Like if you've ever seen Star Wars, it kind of looks like R2 d2. So definitely nothing like an airplane. Looking at the picture, you can also clearly see that the sun's pretty low on the horizon. So this is right around the time Frederik first reported the other aircraft. So for all we know, Roy could have photographed whatever it was that Frederik saw before he disappeared.
Experts have looked at these photos and they all agree that they're real. Nobody tampered with them. So this could be further evidence of some sort of alien abduction. Plus, there are all these other accounts that aren't directly related to Frederic's disappearance, but that seem to corroborate like in the week surrounding Frederick's accident, people all over southern Australia report seeing strange lights in the sky, but nobody knows what they are. It's possible these lights belong to ordinary planes or helicopters or whatever.
I mean, for all we know, people could have heard Fredriks story and then it put them on edge. But some of these sightings were actually reported before Fredriks disappearance. And for people familiar with Bass Strait, the whole idea of an alien abduction actually isn't that far fetched. This stretch of water is sometimes called the Bass Strait Triangle after the Bermuda Triangle because there are a ton of unexplained crashes and disappearances in the area officially. That's because Bass Strait is really heavily traveled.
I mean, it's the busiest water region in all of Australia. So you've got more planes and more ships than average. And even if a tiny percentage of them crash, well, that's still a lot. So it could all be a matter of statistics, except some of these stories are just too weird to explain away.
For example, almost exactly 44 years before Fredriks fatal flight, an airliner called the Miss Hobart disappeared over Bass Strait.
It was October 19th, 1934, and locals said the night was otherwise quiet, they could hear a plane roaring overhead and then suddenly it went dead silent. Now, there's no reason for Miss Hobart to just shut down mid-flight. It's a huge airliner with four engines. So, you know, one shuts down. OK, it happened to pretty unlikely, but you've still got two backups. But for all four engines to fail at once, there's just no way something made Miss Hobart die mid-flight.
And according to some online rumors, the flight crew saw another ship in the air right before they vanished. And they asked ground control what was going on, just like Frederick did. And like Frederick Cessna. Nobody ever found debris from the Miss Hobart, only an oil slick floating in Bass Strait. Now, we can't even say for sure if the oil came from Miss Hobart. They didn't have the same testing equipment in 1934. So who knows, maybe this puddle came from an alien aircraft.
Either way, locals are convinced that the region is a hotbed for UFO activity. One person in particular believes that Frederick was abducted and that's his father, Guido Valentijn. For years, Guido insists that extraterrestrials took his son and they'll bring him back someday, safe and sound. And I sympathize with the guy. I mean, his son is gone and Guido doesn't have any closure. And alien abduction might be the most comforting story. But I should mention that Guido was also a UFO fanatic way before his son disappeared.
In fact, the entire Valentijn family are big believers in extraterrestrials. Frederik's mother even claims she saw an alien ship about eight months before he vanished. This probably happened at their home in Avondale Heights, which is just northwest of Melbourne. Fredriks mom looks out the window one night and she sees this bright light. It's at least ten times bigger than a star and it's hovering in the sky. She immediately calls Frederich over and they're watching together as the UFO zips out of sight.
Now, Frederick was already into alien conspiracy theories. He likes to collect newspaper clippings and he reads a lot of alien themed books like this guy even got special permission to view classified information about UFO sightings in Australia. But after this incident with his mom, Frederick's whole view on extraterrestrials changes. For whatever reason, he's now convinced that alien visitors weren't friendly and he is really worried that they might come after him in the future, maybe even attack him.
This thought bothers him so much that in the months leading up to his disappearance, Frederick keeps bringing it up to his dad. So finally, Guido tells him, you know what, if aliens do come after us, there's nothing we can do. So why even worry? If it happens? It happens. And maybe that's why Frederick doesn't panic when he calls air control on the night of October 21st. He knows he can't do anything. He's just got to accept his fate.
Obviously, that's just one way to interpret this information. And we'd have to believe his mom's story about the UFO sighting to begin with. But it does give us a clue into another possible explanation for his disappearance. Frederick might have faked it. Here's the gist. Fredriks so freaked out about aliens that he wants to run away. So he fakes a UFO sighting, flies off as far as his Cessna can carry him, and starts a new life with a new identity that might seem like something out of a soap opera.
But remember this, Frederic told the people at the Moorabbin Airport that he was meeting up with friends and wanted to pick up some crayfish. But here's the thing. Nobody was waiting for him at the King Island airport when he was supposed to land, no friends, no crayfish, not even airport employees, because the airstrip was actually closed for the night.
And you do not want to try landing on a dark runway. So if Frederick was really headed for King Island, he should have requested to keep the airstrip lit, but he didn't.
OK, so this all seems to add up to some kind of runaway plan. But Frederick actually loved his life. He had a girlfriend, a good job, and he was one class away from getting his pilot's license. And usually when pilots disappear, there's someone around to say that they were depressed or even suicidal. But in Frederick's case, everyone insisted he was happy, paranoid about UFOs, sure, but very tied to his job and family and friends even.
Nation became a favorite among skeptics for years after Frederick went missing, even Australia's Department of Transport official report seemed to suggest it, but they had to change their conclusion on May 15th, 1983, five years after Frederick went missing, because on that day, a key piece of evidence proved that his disappearance was real. Up next, the clue that throws all of our theories into question. Now back to the story. In 1983, five years after Frederick went missing, a young man finds a clue that turns the entire mystery on its head.
We don't know his name, but we do know this guy's father worked at an airport on Flinders Island, just east of King Island in Bass Strait. So maybe this man has plans to meet up with his dad for lunch or something. In any case, he shows up early, has some time to kill and decides to go for a walk along the beach. As he's strolling along, he spots something washed ashore. And it's not your usual seaweed or garbage.
It looks kind of metallic and it's covered in white paint and it's about maybe seven by 12 inches long. The guy takes a closer look and it's unmistakable. This piece of debris came from an airplane. He notifies the authorities. And sure enough, experts analyze the metal piece and they conclude it's from a Cessna 182 aircraft. It's too damaged for investigators to make out the full serial number. But from what they can see, the equipment definitely could be from Fredriks plane.
In other words, he didn't fake his death and skipped the country. But it still leaves us with one big question. Why did Fredriks Cessna go down in the first place? Well, there is one rational explanation. C. Frederick wasn't a great pilot. He actually had already failed his licensing test on three separate occasions before 1978. And even though Frederick was close to getting certified by the time of his disappearance, he still wasn't very experienced. His license only permitted him to pilot when the air was clear.
Plus, this was his first time flying over water at night, so maybe he was out of his depth. It's also possible that he flipped the Cessna upside down without realizing it, which it might sound unlikely to you, but flying really messes with people's sense of direction. I mean, in the air, we can't always sense things like whether we're tilting to the side because that's almost never an issue on the ground. We didn't evolve that ability. So sometimes pilots can flip over without even realizing it, especially if they're a rookie.
So picture this.
Frederick is flying upside down. And when he looks what he thinks is up, which is really down, he sees his own plane reflected in the water of Bass Strait. That at least explains why he sees another aircraft mimicking his movements. Plus, Cessna's don't work correctly when they're upside down. So that could be why his engine stalled out. Now, I get it. This is still a stretch. And it doesn't explain the lights Frederik's saw earlier in the flight.
He said they kept passing him and then turning around and flying right at him. Obviously, a mere image wouldn't do that, but there's a possible explanation for that. To a former pilot named James McGee and a paranormal investigator, Joe Nickell co-authored a piece on Fredriks disappearance for the Skeptical Inquirer. In it, they theorized that Fredriks saw some unusually bright planets and stars arranged in a rectangle, specifically Venus, Mars, Mercury and Integris. And they think Frederich mistook their reflections as aircraft lights.
Now, planets don't swoop over other airplanes the way Frederick described, but it could have looked like these planets and stars were doing that. I mean, it's like when you're driving through a tunnel, it feels like the tunnel is rushing toward you, even though it's totally still. I know it's hard to believe Frederick would have been that disoriented, but McGehee and Nicole make one more important point.
They think Frederick saw what he wanted to see. In fact, they think he was actually searching for UFOs.
Like we said before, Frederick was an alien fanatic and he already thought he'd seen one spaceship. So maybe he took off that night specifically to look for aliens, which would actually explain why he lied about going to King Island to meet friends or to pick up crayfish.
If he mentioned that he was going on an alien hunt, airport personnel would think he was joking. In any case, Frederick is desperate to see some kind of flying saucer. He sees a few planets, gets excited and loses control of his plane.
At least that's the story, according to McGee. Hey and Nicole. But there are still a few problems with this explanation. For one, Frederick went down at 7:00, 12:00 p.m. That's six minutes before sunset. And sure. And Terrys is one of the twenty brightest stars in the night sky. But it wasn't even night yet. And Mercury usually isn't visible until about an hour after dark.
So I guess he could have mistaken planets and stars for UFO lights.
But honestly, it doesn't seem likely.
Besides, there's one other huge reason this may not have been an ordinary accident, and that's the way the Australian government handled the investigation a few times.
Now, I've referenced the transcripts of Fredriks final radio broadcast. Australia's Department of Transport actually didn't want to release those transcripts after the accident, but eventually the public pressure is too intense and they give in. Still, they never release the original audiotapes. So we just have to basically take the department's word that the words on paper match the recording. And UFO expert and author Richard Haynes claims it is definitely not a match. According to Haynes, he got a leaked copy of the audio recording.
And the original audiotape is six and a half minutes, just like the transcript says. But the recording itself has time codes that cover a little over 12 minutes. In other words, someone cut about five minutes from the tape, then publicly release the transcript. There's even been confirmation from several Australian officials saying that certain parts of Fredriks call were censored. These officials were pretty vague about why. But one article in Melbourne's Sun says the recording was edited, quote, in the interest of national security and quote, So I don't know about you, but I can't think of a single reason that a private plane crash would be a national security issue.
And this isn't even the only time the Australian government has. Been evasive about Frederick's case. Like in 2004, a UFO researcher named Keith M. Field requests access to the official files related to the crash investigation, but Australian officials tell him that they can't grant that because allegedly those files don't exist. They say they lost them. But later, Keith does some digging and he finds the files in the National Archives. Now, Keith doesn't actually think this is evidence of a cover up.
After all, if the government didn't want the investigation file to be found, it wouldn't just be sitting in the archives. He thinks it was just misplaced. Still, a so-called missing file fits a pattern along with the edited tape and the alleged national security issue. It all feels like the Australian government has something to hide in regards to Fredriks death. And the possibility that they would be covering up the death of an ordinary pilot definitely lends itself to the possibility of a UFO, which, if you think about it, is really crazy.
Like for all we know, we literally have an audio recording of a real alien abduction that could be huge and the government could be the ones planting stories about Fredriks skipping the country or the upside down Cessna. But that's the thing about Fredriks case. Everyone has a theory and none of them totally add up. It's like putting together a puzzle when you're missing half the pieces, you don't quite know what you're looking at. Maybe that's why Fredrik's disappearance is so popular among paranormal enthusiasts.
You can read whatever you want into it because there's not enough hard evidence to contradict anything. It's the ultimate unsolved and unsolvable mystery.
Thanks for listening.
I'll be back next week with another episode. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place, so they're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like this show, follow app podcast on Facebook and Instagram and podcast. Network on Twitter.
Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers in his Sparkasse studios original.
It's executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Carrie Murphy with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Carly Madden.
This episode of Supernatural was written by Angela Jorgensen with writing assistants by Ali Whicker and Dracul. To hear more stories hosted by me, check out Crime Junkie and all audio check originals.
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