The Travis Walton story

“Hollywood changed things quite a bit” from the true story of his 1975 abduction, said Travis Walton Saturday. As keynote speaker at the Alternate Realities Conference June 27-29 in Roan Mountain State Park, TN, he gave the facts as he remembered them of being taken into a shiny craft and his encounter with alien beings, which was made famous in the movie “Fire in the Sky” starring Patrick Sweeney playing Walton.
Walton also provided previously unpublished data about strange effects on the trees at the spot where he was transfixed by a blue beam from a glowing UFO as six terrified witnesses looked on. Analysis of tree rings shows growth within the area 36 times the rate prior to the encounter. 

Walton showed a slide of a tree cross-section that clearly shows much wider rings after the year of the encounter than before. UFO researcher Earle Benezet in an earlier lecture mentioned that a similar phenomenon was recorded in the plants within the radius of crop circles. 

Further backing the reality of Walton’s abduction is the fact that it occurred in the presence of six eyewitnesses, all of whom passed lie detector tests. No other abduction account on record has this much corroboration. 

Walton used slides from illustrations of the book Fire In The Sky: The Walton Experience. It happened on Nov. 5, 1975, as Walton and his co-workers were driving home from a day of logging in the White Mountains of Arizona. 

At first they saw a glow through the trees, which then became a shiny metallic object. Walton, a reckless youth at the time, told the driver to stop the truck so he could get out and investigate. “I thought it might get away before I could get a look at it,” he said. 

Walton described the object as circular, with panels of a metal that seemed to glow “kind of like moulten metal” separated by bands of a reflective material that mirrored the trees below. It gave off a low rumble, barely within the range of human hearing, and a faint “cyclical sound, high pitched, like something scraping,” he said. 

Walton, his curiosity turned to terror, was torn between “hiding under a log” or running back to the truck. Just when he was about to run, what witnesses variously described as a blue beam, flame or light from the hovering object knocked him backward “like a rag doll,” leaving him limp on the ground. Thinking he was dead, his terrified companions drove off in a panic. 

When they came to their senses, they came back to the scene, but Walton had disappeared. After some debate about what to do, they finally called the police, who were highly skeptical of their story and even suspected that they had murdered him. 

An intensive four-day search of the area turned up no sign of Walton. Search dogs followed his trail up to the point he fell, but found no scent beyond that spot. 

Interestingly, a man posing as a forest agent appeared with a geiger counter to measure radiation in the area a couple of days later. One of his friends confronted the “geiger counter man,” who was mentioned in the credits of the movie but was cut from the final production. The man said he only found “background radiation,” but when Walton’s friend put a hard hat that had been worn during the encounter under the geiger counter, “it jumped off the scale,” Walton said. 

For five days, his friends “went through hell” trying to explain their story to suspicious lawmen. “It was nothing compared to what I went through,” Walton said. He woke up on his back on a hard surface in a “curved room.” He was in pain and had difficulty breathing. At first he thought he was in a hospital following an accident, and heard people around him who he assumed were doctors or nurses. 

When his vision cleared, he received the “biggest shock of my life. I just flipped out,” he said. 

There were four or five small creatures with big heads and huge, penetrating eyes “that haunted my dreams for years,” he said. He brushed the nearest ones away, leapt off the table and screamed for them to get away from him. “I felt I was fighting for my life. Fear gave me energy,” he said. 

Backing up to a low bench with instruments on it, he picked up a rod or tube to use as a weapon and waved it at the creatures. They came closer, holding their hands out, but when his terror reached a crescendo, they suddenly turned and walked out the door all at once. 

He got the impression that “they could see right inside me and know everything I was thinking, but they had no empathy at all. It is hard to describe being seen in that way.” 

He went out the door, going in the opposite direction from where the creatures had gone, and ran along a narrow, curving passageway. He found an open door and walked into a room with a single chair in the center with some buttons and levers attached. 

As he approached the chair, the walls of the room began to dissolve and a projection of the stars appeared with “dark, curving lines and short lines” connecting various points, as if it was a navigation device. He pulled a lever on the chair, hoping that it would open a door, but it made the star-map change position, which was very disorienting. 

Suddenly he noticed a figure standing in the door he came in. It was a tall blonde man wearing a transparent helmet. Relieved to see a human face, “I thought I was being rescued,” he said. 

The man led him by the arm down a ramp and out of the craft, coming out into a huge room that looked like a quarter-cylinder. It had other smaller disc-shaped craft parked nearby. When he exited the craft, his pain and difficulty breathing immediately passed and the air felt fresher. 

He was met by a blonde woman dressed like the male except without the helmet. He pelted them with questions, but received no response. 

They took him into a room and laid him down on a table. He resisted, but they were strong and he was weak from his ordeal. The woman placed a small transparent mask over his face and he passed out. 

He awoke on a country road near the town closest to his encounter. He ran into town, found a pay phone and called home. His brother-in-law answered, and almost hung up, thinking it was a prank, but the desperation in Walton’s voice convinced him. After they picked him up, Walton was shocked to learn that five days had passed, since what he remembered took up less than an hour or two. 

Although Walton’s experience was widely derided as a hoax, the facts of the case defy any conventional explanation. He was not on drugs, had no sign of psychosis, and six eyewitnesses corroborated his story. It could not be blamed on “false memories” from hypnosis, because Walton never submitted to hypnotic regression. It remains the best-documented abduction case on record, despite Hollywood’s efforts to put it in the realm of fantasy.


Hal McKenzie (1948-2010) was the first editor of

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