On 28 June 2012 I wrote a blog piece about the discovery of two Australian government files relating to the disappearance, in 1978, of pilot Frederick Valentich, over Bass Strait, Australia.
Last year, in September, while randomly checking the National Archives of Australia's RecordSearch database, I found a two part file which also relates to the disappearance.
The new file is NAA file series B638, control symbol M116/783/1047 parts 1 and part 2; barcodes 10499635 and 10499636. Series B638 is comprised of 299 air safety, accident and incident files, where M stands for Melbourne.
I immediately requested that the files, whose status was "Not yet examined" be examined. On 18 December 2015, I was advised that both parts of the file were now "open." I then submitted a request to have the file digitised, and paid the relevant fee.
The file, when "open" is titled "Accident on C182L - Moorabbin Vic/King Island Tas - 21 October 1978. VH-DSJ [including multiple newspaper cuttings regarding incident folder contains two piles.]"
The file had just been digitised.
What is on the file?
Perhaps firstly, the question is, where did this new file originate? We know that the already known file, NAA file series B1497 control symbol V116/783/1047, was owned by the Department of Civil Aviation, Victoria-Tasmania region. However, this new file NAA file series B638 control symbol M116/783/1047 was owned by the Department of Civil Aviation, Central Office.
Part one of the file is 200 pages, with part two being 139 pages long. Between the two, there are:
* dozens and dozens of newspaper clippings about the disappearance, perhaps the largest collection of articles I have come across
* numerous documents where statements were taken from individuals such as aircraft refuellers; pilots; and briefing officers. We have previously seen all of these statements on NAA file series A4703 control symbol 1978/1205 and NAA file series B1497 control symbol V116/783/1047
* a few, previously unseen typed and handwritten official minutes between individuals. However, even these really add very little to the debate as to what caused the disappearance.
One interesting set of papers is a letter from Allan Brunt, Regional Director for South Australia for the Bureau of Meteorology. Allan was open to taking a look at UFO reports, and he and I had a series of discussions about specific sightings, such as the 1988 Knowles car lift case.
On 3 August 1982 Allan forwarded a three page letter to the Department of Transport about the disappearance. Amongst his comments was one in regards to the fact that the UFO reported by Valentich was not seen continuously but on three separate occasions. Allan wrote "This type of sighting is consistent with a multiple meteor observation or a "meteor shower" with not just one, but several phenomena in procession. From the evidence available, I am unable to rule out the possibility that the pilot of VH-DSJ was frightened by the appearance of one or more meteors and, fearing a collision, took evasive action, or being seriously distracted by the frightening phenomena, flew into the sea."
You can view the file
To take a look at the file for yourself, or to download the file's PDF, go to http://www.naa.gov.au and on the home screen type "dsj" into the "search the collection" window, and click on "go."
Finally, yet another Valentich file revealed
We now know of three Australian government files relating to the disappearance of Valentich. However, the latest file's inside cover reveals yet another, unknown file. This is a Department of Transport file number 123/1/30 titled "ASIB requests for information regarding accident to Cessna 182L aircraft VH-DSJ on 21/9/78." (This date of 21/9/78 is incorrect, it should be 21/10/78.) I checked the NAA's RecordSearch and this fourth file is not listed. I checked using words within its title, but found no trace of it in RecordSearch. Yet another mystery.