The Travis Walton Incident is one of the most famous cases in Ufology.
This article is based on the true story of Travis Walton's UFO encounter.
Specific facts and details have been cross-referenced with what Travis has said about his encounter.
Wednesday, November 5, 1975, was set to be just another regular workday for 22-year-old Travis Walton. Little did he know that he would have the experience of a lifetime that evening.
After a long day of work in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Travis and his logging crew of six were riding home when they suddenly noticed a brilliant glow peeking through the trees. As they continued riding down the dirt road, they eventually got close enough to realize the light was emanating from a structured craft. Before the truck came to a complete stop and mesmerized by what he saw, Travis leaped out to approach the unidentified object as it hovered silently in the clearing. Within moments of his approach, Walton was struck by a vibrant bluish-green beam of light that seemingly came from the bottom of the craft and sent him flying backward several feet. The immense beam lit up the entire forest brighter than daylight. The witnesses have compared the beam to a bolt of lightning and a long blue flame. Travis never saw the beam.
In a panic, the crew boss and driver of the truck, Mike Rogers, fled the scene as quickly as possible. The crew was utterly baffled as what they had witnessed had no earthly explanation. Minutes later, the crew decided to return to the site to help Travis if they could. Much to everyone's surprise, Travis was gone. The crew looked for several minutes and could not find him anywhere. With seemingly no other hope, the crew drove into town and contacted the local sheriff. They explained what they had witnessed as best they could and told authorities that a flying saucer had taken their friend Travis Walton. In an effort to prove them wrong, the sheriff conducted a thorough search of the area along with Mike Rogers. They could not find him.
In the days Walton was missing, all six of his coworkers were accused of murder. With no other explanation, Mike Rogers and the rest of the crew stuck to their story. As far as they were concerned, they witnessed a UFO shoot a beam at Travis and knock him to the ground before he suddenly vanished just minutes later.
Very little is known as to what happened after Travis was struck. This portion of the story relies only on Travis’ memory. The rest of the incredible experience was revealed as a result of regression hypnosis conducted by Dr. James A. Harder in the 1970s. In the hypnosis room with Harder and Walton were three physicians and a psychiatrist. When discussing the case, Harder said, "beyond any reasonable doubt, the evidence is as valid as any that would be accepted in an American criminal court."
Travis says he blacked out the moment the beam hit him. He says he felt a “numbing shock” and then blacked out. The next thing he could remember is waking up while lying flat in an oddly shaped room. Travis says as he opened his eyes, he suddenly noticed three humanoid creatures standing over him. Walton recalls a strange device placed over his chest holding him down on the table. Startled by this, Travis got up and grabbed an object to defend himself from the odd creatures. He waved it around in an attempt to threaten them. Travis describes the creatures as being between 4 to 5 feet tall with pale skin and enlarged heads. They had large brown eyes and were wearing orange jumpsuits. Travis' description of the beings is similar to that of others.
Once the three creatures left the room, Travis curiously walked around the craft. He soon found himself in a room that resembled a planetarium. Then, two more human-looking beings in blue jumpsuits approached Travis and transported him elsewhere. Travis believes he was transported out of the scout ship he was in and taken to another craft. He remembers these beings putting a mask-like device over his face that caused him black out, but beyond that he remembers very little.
Travis Walton’s disappearance had initially been treated as a missing person case. Arizona sheriffs searched for Travis with scent dogs and helicopters throughout the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for five days. The most extensive search in Arizona history came to an end when Travis Walton was returned just miles away from where he had been taken. Just after midnight on Monday, November 10, 1975, Travis was left lying face down by the side of the road. He says he awoke to see a metallic mirror-like craft departing above him. Travis got to his feet and ran as quickly as he could to find help. Eventually, he found a phone booth at a local gas station in Heber, Arizona, by which he contacted his family. Met with shock and disbelief, Travis was notified that he had been missing for five days.
Travis was immediately taken to a hospital that found him dehydrated and noticed a puncture wound on his right arm. He had also lost 12 pounds and had grown five days' worth of facial hair. Five of the six witnesses passed polygraph tests in the days Travis was gone. One of the witnesses, Alan Dalis, walked out of the room before his test was completed. He and Travis had gotten into a fight the morning of the incident, and he felt overly agitated that the police were trying to pin a crime on him.
Travis also passed a polygraph test, and medical records indicated no drugs were in his system. Travis returned with faint memories of being examined by alien creatures and accidentally viewing a star system from the craft's cockpit. He believes the beam, which struck him in the head and chest, killed him upon impact. Walton also believes he was taken on board the craft to be revived.
(An illustration of the first sight Travis saw as he awoke onboard a spacecraft, fittingly titled The Examination.)
It is important to note that if Travis had been hiding or lost wandering in the forest as initially suspected, he would have likely frozen to death at night with temperatures reaching a blistering 8 degrees Fahrenheit (-13.3 degrees Celsius).
Researchers suggest that sheriffs were investigating cattle mutilations in the area just before Travis' abduction.
Analysis of the trees directly surrounding the area Travis was struck has shown that they have seen accelerated growth due to radiation exposure potentially from the UFO. By looking at the tree rings in the area and comparing them to others nearby, a clear indication was made that the affected trees underwent a significant change. When discussing his 2014 investigation of the site, Ben Hansen said, "not only was there an extreme growth rate to some of these trees around the clearing, but it seems that there was a directionality to them." Hansen noted that the growth appeared to be focused in a particular region within the clearing.
In November of 1975, several media outlets reported on Travis' encounter and, more often than not, with inaccurate or incomplete information. Several local newspapers and media outlets covered Travis' story, including Arizona's very own White Mountain Independent. The paper covered Walton's case on November 14, 1975, with the front-page headline which reads: "Kidnapped Into Spacecraft?" As a result, the story quickly gained a local buzz in Walton's town. Some believed his claims; many did not. Understandably distraught and perhaps still in shock, Travis initially avoided all media. This did not stop the story from getting out, however. His initial reluctance to meet with the media only fueled skeptics and encouraged rumors. Soon, media outlets from all over the world flooded into Travis' humble town of Snowflake, Arizona. In an effort to minimize his interaction with the press, Travis agreed to an exclusive feature with the National Enquirer. The Enquirer funded efforts to either prove or disprove Travis' claims. According to the original article, Travis underwent a polygraph examination. The Enquirer printed the headline "Arizona Man Taken By A Flying Saucer" in bold type in a December 1975 issue. At the time, The National Enquirer considered itself "The Largest Circulation Of Any Paper In America.”
The case was also covered in MUFON's now-defunct Skylook publication in April of 1976. In the monthly journal, Walton had the chance to explain his side of the story, perhaps for the first time. Walton said, "when I was returned on November 10, I was in a serious emotional state. At that time and for weeks afterwards I didn't want to tell anyone about my experience except those close to me. I avoided the public and media for several days. During my silence a lot of misinformation was printed."
Just a couple of months after the incident, in January of 1976, Travis Walton was flown to Los Angeles, CA, to be interviewed by Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy for a pilot TV show. Travis was accompanied by researchers Jim and Coral Lorenzon of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). The episode with Travis never aired on television. The APRO Bulletin reported that the show was titled The Unexplained, while others say it was titled In Search Of… Nimoy even discussed his belief in UFOs and Travis Walton’s story with The National Enquirer. When asked about his belief in UFOs, Leonard Nimoy said, “I believe in UFOs because so many qualified observers and solid people have reported sightings that just can’t be dismissed. I’ve talked with Travis Walton, a young Arizona man who claimed he was actually taken aboard a UFO. It was a bizarre story, but I felt he was being truthful.”
In 1976, Travis and his crew were awarded $5,000 by the National Enquirer. Despite skeptics claiming that the whole case was hoaxed as a money scheme, there has been no clear evidence to suggest that it was a hoax.
On the opening day of Fire in the Sky on March 12, 1993, Travis Walton and Mike Rogers appeared on Larry King Live. This was Travis and Mike's first major interview. The segment featured Ufology’s biggest skeptic, Philip Klass.
Approximately 45 years after his incident, Travis Walton appeared on episode #1597 of The Joe Rogan Experience. In the two-hour interview, Travis expressed the similarities to the craft he saw to that as described by Bob Lazar. As mentioned by Travis, Testors' 1994 Area S4 UFO model does bear a resemblance to the craft witnessed by himself and the crew.
The abduction site was initially inadequately investigated by Bill Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch. In 1976, Travis expressed that he had never met or spoken with Spaulding, nor had Spaulding spoken with any witnesses. The incident was investigated more seriously by the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). According to Travis, APRO carried "the real investigation" as they conducted several medical, psychiatric, hypnotic, and polygraph examinations. In the summer of 2014, Ben Hansen closely investigated the site again and found signs of significant tree growth in the area, presumably resulting from the UFO's radiation, as noted before.
THE WALTON EXPERIENCE - THE BOOK
Within months of the incident, Travis had already begun writing about his experience. A newspaper feature from February of 1976 reported that Walton had already started writing about his ordeal, possibly as a way to cope with what had happened to him.
The report also notes that he had been working closely with an artist to illustrate the encounter. That unnamed artist was presumably Mike Rogers.
In March of 1978, Berkley Books published Travis' book fittingly titled The Walton Experience. In his book, he detailed his encounter and gave insight into the experience of being taken aboard a UFO.
According to Travis’ crew boss, Mike Rogers, The Walton Experience sold 50,000 copies in less than a month.
For decades, Travis Walton has been widely regarded as the most famous alien abductee in the world. His case is arguably second to only the startling claims of Betty and Barney Hill, who say they were taken and returned in 1961 by extraterrestrial beings from the Zeta Reticuli star system. However, Betty and Barney's case has never been backed by several first-hand witnesses as Travis' has.
Perhaps put best by a 1998 MUFON Journal, "When ufologists discuss the most credible abduction cases, three stand out: the Betty and Barney Hill case, the Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker Pascagoula case, and the Travis Walton case.”
Skeptics have tried to explain Travis' case away by saying that the whole experience was a drug-induced hallucination. However, it is highly unlikely for seven men to hallucinate the same exact incident. Additionally, medical records show that Travis did not have any drugs in his system.
Although the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book was not in operation at the time of Travis' incident, Dr. J. Allen Hynek said this in 1976:
"Well, I think that he underwent, I understand, a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and passed it with high colors. It showed that he was not psychotic or did not or was not given to deception. Now, if that is so, I think that's a point in his favor. But what I've always felt about this case, I've divided it into two parts. One is the first part involving all seven. They took lie detector tests and passed them. It fits a pattern. See, if this were the only case on record, then I would have to say, 'well, I couldn't possibly believe it, but at the Center for UFO Studies, now we have some two dozen similar abduction cases now currently being studied. Something is going on..."
It is important to note that Dr. J. Allen Hynek is perhaps best remembered for being the chief investigator and scientific advisor on UFOs for the U.S. Air Force. Hynek is also credited with creating the close encounter classification system.
FIRE IN THE SKY - THE MOVIE
Travis Walton's story remains one of the most famous and best documented alien abduction cases of all time. A major feature film, which is now considered a cult classic, was released solely based on Travis' fantastic story. The film was released in 1993 by Paramount Pictures and is titled Fire in the Sky. According to Den of Geek, "its depiction of what an alien craft might look like, based on abductees' accounts, is one of the most memorable in 90s sci-fi cinema." Nonetheless, the film producers have admitted to taking creative liberties with Walton's story in an effort to make it more compelling for audiences. As if the occurrence of alien abduction was not enough for Hollywood. Consequently, the film is regarded as a generally inaccurate account of what actually happened in 1975.
Fire In The Sky, based on Travis’ experience, brought along greater acceptance of the abduction phenomenon. The film also instilled fear in the minds of many that they would succumb to the reality of being taken by inhabitants from another world.
IMPACT ON TRAVIS
The overall experience has affected Travis in ways that perhaps very few may understand. According to his own website, travis-walton.com, Travis says, "If I had to do it over again I wouldn't get out of the truck." The notion of whether his experience was exciting or terrifying is a matter of opinion. Travis, however, has often expressed a fearful recollection of the entire experience.
Since 1975, Travis Walton's story has not changed. Naturally, his choice of words has differed slightly over the four decades he's been sharing his experience. Nonetheless, his story stands the test of time and continues to be compelling even for those who've heard it several times.
Travis is well-admired by so many and well-respected by veteran researchers in the field of Ufology. His story is incredibly remarkable, and only a few can relate. One such man who may be able to relate is Calvin Parker of the classic 1973 Pascagoula case. Calvin Parker and Travis Walton, two of the most famous alien abductees in the world, met at a UFO conference in 2019! This iconic photo shows two men who, decades ago, experienced something they still cannot explain with earthly terms. Travis found comfort in writing about his encounter just weeks after it happened, while Calvin did his best to ignore it altogether for 45 years.
Over the years, it seems as though Travis has found comfort in talking with other UFO abductees. In addition to Calvin Parker, Travis was friends with Betty Hill of what is now known as the first reported alien abduction in America. Betty and her husband, Barney, claimed they were taken by otherworldly beings and experimented on in 1961.
THE WITNESSES AND THEIR TESTIMONY
Along with Travis in the 1965 international crew cab truck was his logging crew. Most of the men he knew; a couple of them he had only known for two days. Driving the truck was the crew boss, Mike Rogers. Riding in the front, and closest to the window, was Travis.
“It was many years ago that I got out of a crew truck in the national forest and ran toward a large glowing object hovering in the darkening Arizona sky. But when I made that fateful choice to leave the truck, I was leaving behind more than just my six fellow workmen. I was leaving behind forever all semblance of a normal life, running headlong toward an experience so overwhelmingly mind- rending in its effects, so devastating in its aftermath, that my life would never—could never — be the same again.” - Travis Walton
"I know what I saw - and it wasn't anything from this earth!" - John Goulette
"I saw a bluish light come from the machine and Travis went flying - like he'd touched a live wire!" - Kenneth Peterson
"The UFO was smooth and was giving off a yellowish-orange light." - Dwayne Smith
"I've been working these woods for over thirty years and this is still the damnedest thing that ever happened to me!" - Mike Rogers
“We couldn’t believe what was happening. The horror was unreal.” - Allen Dalis
“The ray was the brightest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life!” - Steve Pierce
(Left to right are Steve Pierce, Kenneth Peterson, Allen Dalis, Dwayne Smith, Travis Walton, Mike Rogers, and John Goulette)
NOTABLE QUOTES ON TRAVIS WALTON'S INCIDENT
For decades, Travis Walton’s experience has mystified even the greatest minds in Ufology. Naturally, many have weighed in to lend their opinion on the incident.
"The best close encounter of the third kind in U.S. history. Travis Walton." - James Fox
"He's kept it real for 45 years & he's kept a good attitude - that's admirable." - Jeremy Corbell
"The uniqueness of Travis' case is that there's certain aspects that you don't see in many other cases. For one, there were several other people who saw him being zapped. It wasn't one man's testimony." - Stanton Friedman
"When you look at the Travis Walton case, it really is a case of the more you look, the more you find…. You've got a very credible subject in Travis Walton. You've got six credible witnesses. You have a situation where the debunkers have tried to throw this out, and they've failed every single time. It's stood the test of time." - Richard Dolan
"Obviously I have no idea what really happened, but his story is bizarrely compelling, and both he and his coworkers passed several polygraph tests. It was a fun conversation to have, and if he's telling the truth, we are not alone." - Joe Rogan