Having just completed a review of UAP observations which were reported around the time of the 21st October, 1978 disappearance of pilot Frederick Valentich, my attention has now been drawn to a little known aspect of this incident.
Aircraft Accident Investigation report:
The Department of Transport's "Aircraft Accident Investigation Summary Report" contains a transcript of radio communications between Valentich and the Melbourne Flight Service Unit. This transcript at 1912:28 hours, has the line "Delta Sierra Juliet Melbourne // 17 seconds open microphone//" as the last transmission from the pilot. It has been reported in numerous sources, that the 17 seconds of open microphone contained a metallic-like noise. There has been much speculation about the source of this metallic noise. What is less known, is that there was an analysis conducted of this portion of the tape.
One copy of the tape:
I am aware that a copy of the tape recording of the radio communications was given to Frederick Valentich's father, Guido, by the Australian government's, Department of Transport. This is clearly stated on National Archives of Australia file series B1497, control symbol V116/783/1047, in a letter to Guido dated 5th March 1979 signed by G V Hughes, A/g Director. "It is the normal policy of this Department to treat all recorded radio transmissions as confidential. However, in this case, I am happy to give you a taped copy of your son's voice to have as a keepsake."
Another copy of the tape:
Dr Richard Haines in the USA obtained a copy of the radio transmissions tape and carried out an analysis. The results were published in an article titled "Results of Sound Spectrum Analysis of the Metallic Noises of a Tape Recorded Radio Transmission Between Cessna VH:DSJ and The Flight Service of Melbourne, Australia" and appeared in The Journal of UFO Studies, 1981, Volume III. CUFOS. Chicago. pp. 14-23, with the author being Richard F Haines.
The article reports "Two separate activities were undertaken to analyze this tape. (1) a "control baseline" sound tape was made under conditions as similar as possible to the original and (2) both the tape received by the author and and the control baseline taped sounds were subjected to frequency spectrum analysis." (p.15.)
Baseline control sounds were created using a Cessna 182 aircraft, both on the ground and in flight. "The tape in question containing the unusual metallic sounds and the control sounds were then analyzed using a Ubiquitous sound spectrum analyzer." (p.15.)
Haines found that "...the seventeen second-long period could be subdivided into the following basic sections..." (p.15.)
1. Pre-noise background - 1.8 second duration.
2. First group of metallic noises - 10.4 seconds.
3. Pause of 0.84 seconds.
4. Second group of metallic noises - 4.04 second duration.
5. Post noise background.
In the paper, Haines refers to these sections as "intervals."
Referring to the first group of metallic sounds, Haines concluded "Thus, it is within the realms of possibility that the metallic noise (burst) could have been produced by extremely rapid manual keying of the aircraft's microphone press-to-talk switch, at least on the basis of its temporal features. The author has learned that the pilot was known to have a habit of depressing the microphone switch irregularly in flight for some reason." (p.20.)
Department of Transport file:
This habit of the pilot was confirmed on the Department of Transport file in an "Investigator's note" of a conversation between Miss Rhonda Rushton (Valentich's girlfriend who had flown with him a number of time) and Departmental employee J C Sandercock, on 24th October 1978. In part, the note reads:
" However, she was aware of some unusual habits he had while flying. These concerned the use of the radio. She was aware he usually 'clicked' the microphone button after transmitting, and that he never put it back in the rack, but left the microphone on his lap, where because of his leg actions, it was sometimes activated. He also had the habit of positioning or rubbing the microphone on his jumper sleeve before using it.
She stated Valentich had long legs and that after a period of time it was his habit to release the seat and to push it rearward, which again sometimes operated the microphone on his lap. She was of the opinion the "metallic noises" mentioned in the newspaper, could have been the seat sliding forward, with the microphone transmitting."
Back to the Haines article:
Referring to the second group of "metallic noises" Haines wrote "Thus, it is very likely that they represent the same basic phenomenon as occurs during interval 2." (p.21.)
Turning to the control sounds made in a Cessna 182, Haines writes "It should be pointed out that of all the sound effects produced by the author in the cockpit, the only ones that sounded at all like the metallic noises from Cessna VH-DSJ were those produced by a rapid manual keying of the microphone." (p.21.)
However, in the"conclusions" section of the paper, Haines notes "An attempt to recreate the same sounds in flight under basically the same flight conditions was not particularly successful. A somewhat similar start and stop pulse-like effect was achieved using a press-to-talk hand held microphone during various control tests, but the frequency versus time characteristics of these radio transmissions were noticeably different from those on the original tape." (p.22.) Here, Haines' reference to the original tape, means the copy tape he received.
The original recording:
As Haines was working from, at minimum a third generation tape (most likely a copy of the copy given to Guido Valentich,) would it be possible to obtain the original recording to undertake a new sound analysis? The answer is no. Papers I obtained from the Department of Transport indicate that the original tape of the transmissions, was returned to service and re-recorded over, as was normal practice in those days. Thus the original recording no longer exists.
Have any blog readers come across anything which relates to these tapes?
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