Friday, October 28, 2011

"Destroyed" Frederick Valentich file turns up

Hi all

Appendix six to the final report on the Disclosure Australia Project's five year search for Australian government UFO files concerned the disappearance of Frederick Valentich (click here) on 21 October 1978. While looking through Australian government files for UFO related material, the Project also kept an eye out for any papers concerning Frederick Valentich.

On 10 August 2004, I submitted an FOI request to the federal Department of Transport requesting a copy of their accident/incident investigation report on Valentich - their file reference V116/783/1047. Their reply on 1 September 2004 in part read "I understand that file V116/783/1047 has been destroyed by the National Archives of Australia." An electronic search of the NAA's records failed to find any trace of this file. It did indeed appear that it was no longer with us.

Fast forward to earlier tonight, when I was browsing the NAA website and to my amazement there was file - safely in the Archives!

File series B1497 control symbol V116/783/1047 DSJ - Cape Otway to King Island. 21 October 1978 - Aircraft missing (Valentich). Date range 1978-1992. Barcode 10491375. Location - Melbourne.

There was one hitch thought, the status of the file is shown as "closed." This in theory means that although the file is in the NAA you can't access it. Then I noticed that the reason for it being closed was that in 2008 when the status was shown as closed, the 30 year rule did not apply. Via the Archive Act you can only access files with papers on them providing they are more than 30 years old.

Now it is 2011, so one should be able to access papers on the file provided they are dated 1978, 1979 or 1980. The Archives still won't let you access papers less than 30 years old.

Needless to say, I have just lodged an application for access to the files, which should get me the 1978-1980 papers.  This process can take up to three months, so I will keep you posted. However, finally we might get to see what the Department of Transport's investigation found.


  1. Way to go Keith!!
    Let's see if there is any light shed on the type of investigation carried out.

  2. "I understand that file V116/783/1047 has been destroyed by the National Archives of Australia."

    Although I don't tend to subscribe to the Ufological panacea of a 'cover-up' the phrasing of that sentence is specifically ambiguous.

  3. Hello again Keith, over on Michael Swords' blog, he was writing about the frequency of UFO sightings occurring at certain times. It made me wonder if you, or anyone else, have done a similar number crunch for southern hemisphere reports. If so, which are your peak months for sightings?

  4. Hi Kandinsky

    I am not aware of anyone who has done frquency analysis of Australian UFO reports. I think one of the reasons why this has not occurred, is that there is no Australian UFO reports database. UFO study in Australia has traditionally been undertaken by groups in the states of Queensland; New South Wales; Victoria; Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Each state has had a main UFO society and they have tended to keep their reports to themselves. Some websites belonging to these groups have hundreds of UFO reports listed, but they mix in the core UFO, with lots and lots of poorly researched cases which I would imagine have 95% IFOs buried in them. Which is which is hard to tell.

    I have catalogued a few hundred of the better cases over the years and have been working in recent weeks on getting this Australia wide catalogue into better shape, with the hope of doing some simple analysis on months/times etc. However, this is a slow process.


  5. Great work Keith. That's an interesting way to hide a file, tell everyone it has been destroyed so they won't even look for it.
    I guess there is nothing on Westall, April 1966, Melbourne, in these archives.

    Cheers...George Simpson
    AUFORN VIC Melbourne.

  6. Hi

    The National Archives website currently has a notice that they are not meeting their turn around times for file requests. I have heard nothing from them re my Valentich file request.

  7. Hiya Keith, coincidentally, Kate Valentine recently interviewed Andrew Arnold and Valentich was an obvious Australian case to discuss.

    You get a name-check in the interview.

    What caught my attention was Arnold's account of how the air traffic tapes were recorded over straight away and the Valentich family were only allowed to listen to the tapes without letting anyone else hear them.

    As far as I'm aware, Dick Haines and other researchers have copies of the tape. Haines used the tapes as evidence in his JSE article and explained in an interview that they were being withheld from the public as a courtesy to the family.

    The interview is at this link (20 minutes):

  8. Keith,

    just wondering, were there any updates so far in regards to your original post?

    Best Regards

  9. Hi Archivist1947

    The Australian Department of Transport has cleared the file for release to me. I have paid the fee and am now three weeks into waiting the arrival of the hard copy file. I will post a piece on the file when it arrives, on the blog and a link on this blog.

    Thank you for your interest.