Twenty year old Fred Valentich was reaching the end of his rope or at least his dreams. With only 150 hours of flying time, he had been twice rejected by the Royal Australian Air Force and failed all five of his commercial pilot’s licensing subjects, not once but twice. He’d also been cited for deliberately flying blind into a cloud and received a warning for straying into restricted air space.
He wanted to be a professional pilot more than anything, but everyone who knew anything about flying said he was no good at it.
At 1819 hours on October 21, 1978, he took off in a rented single-engine Cessna 182L from Victoria’s Moorabbin airport near Melbourne, Australia with the intension of heading across Bass Strait to King Island near Tasmania. He’d told flight officials that the purpose of his trip was to pick up some friends from the island, but he’d also told his friends that he was going to pick up some crayfish.
Neither was true. He just needed to get away and clear his head. His life was mundane, boring really. He was enthralled with UFOs and thought it would be great to encounter one in the air as other pilots claimed to have done. If nothing else, he could log a few more hours flight time.