Exactly thirty nine years ago today, on the 5th November 1975, Travis Walton experienced something truly extraordinary. It was an event that caused trauma to him, his friends, and his community, as they all tried to explain what happened. Because that evening, at some point between 6.10pm and 7pm, Travis and the other men he was with were subject to an encounter that they would never forget. Through the re-telling of what happened, neither will the rest of the world.
After a hard day of tree-felling, Mike Smith, Travis Walton, Ken Peterson, John Goulette, Steve Pierce, Allen Dallis and Dwayne Smith all made their way home together. Mike Smith, their boss, drove them in his pickup truck. As the others joked in the back, Travis, sitting in the passenger seat, was distracted by a light coming through the trees. At first he assumed it was the sun, but then reasoned the sun would have already set. He thought maybe it was a fire. By now the others had caught sight of it too, and the joking had stopped. As they passed it, the light was almost blinding. One of the men, Dwayne, commented that he thought it might be a crashed plane in the trees.
As the truck moved to where the men could see better what was causing the brightness, they were dumb-struck. Before them was what they could only interpret as a gold, disc-shaped, flying saucer. It was hovering just below the tree tops.
In his excitement, Travis leapt from the truck. The others, beginning to panic, shouted for him to come back. The men later said that Travis was below the UFO when it began to make a loud noise. Travis started to walk away when the disc wobbled from side to side.
Just at that moment, the men watched in horror as Travis was struck by what they described as a blue-green light which shot out from the disc. Clark (1988) stated that Travis “rose a foot into the air, his arms and legs outstretched, and shot back stiffly some 10 feet (3.0m), all the while caught in the glow of the light. His right shoulder hit the earth, and his body sprawled limply over the ground.”
By 7.30pm the men were reporting the disappearance of their friend and co-worker Travis Walton to Deputy Sheriff Chuck Ellison. Ellison recalled that two of the men were in tears and, though he was sceptical of their bizarre story, he conceded that they seemed genuine. Ellison’s superior, Sheriff Marlin Gillespie, along with Officer Ken Coplan, Mike Rogers, Ken Peterson and Allen Dallis, went back to the clearing to search for Travis. Goulette, Pierce and Smith were all too upset and decided to return home to Snowflake and break the news of Travis’s disappearance to family and friends.
No physical evidence of the events could be found. Mike Rogers and Sheriff Coplan went to tell Travis’s mother, Mary Walton Kellett. On hearing the news she was calm – something that debunkers have cited as a reason to suspect the story was false. However, in the days that followed Kellet did break down on several occasions. At 3am on the 6th, she telephoned Travis’s brother, Duane Walton, who travelled from his home in Glendale, Arizona and drove to Snowflake.
Police had scoured the area, and were suspicious that the UFO sighting was a story concocted to cover up an accident or homicide. However, when Duane and Mike Rogers returned to the clearing on the morning of the 6th to find no police presence, they immediately went to Sheriff Gillespie’s office to demand a reason why no further searches were being carried out. Their angry outburst was effective. By the afternoon, police were out searching for Travis with helicopters, horses, and jeeps.
The disappearance of Walton became international news, with reporters, ufologists, and intrigued others, all heading for Snowflake. Of course, the media highlighted controversial statements made by Mike Rogers and Duane Walton, which on reflection they had said without thinking of the possible consequences. Nevertheless, apart from Dallis, the other five men all passed a polygraph test where they denied harming Travis, having knowledge of anyone who had caused him harm, or knowing where his body was. They also maintained that they had seen a UFO. The polygraph result said that, without doubt, they were telling the truth. Even Sheriff Gillespie now accepted their UFO story.
Meanwhile, somewhere else, Travis Walton was beginning to wake up. In his own words:
“I looked at the vague but reassuring forms of the doctors around me. Abruptly my vision cleared. The sudden horror of what I saw rocked me as I realized I was definitely not in a hospital. I was looking square into the face of a horrible creature … with huge, luminous brown eyes the size of quarters! I looked frantically around me. There were three of them! Hysteria overcame me instantly.” —Travis Walton
He went on to describe them as typical Greys, which have been reported in other abduction scenarios. They were shorter than five feet, with large, bald, dome-shaped heads. After jumping off the table he was on, and threatening these creatures, they left the room (or ran away). Walton described walking through the corridors of the place he had found himself and meeting humanoids. One covered his face with an oxygen mask, he passed out, and the next thing he was waking up outside a gas station. He looked up and saw the object above the highway before it shot off. Walton then got himself to a telephone and called his cousin, Grant Neff. He thought he had only been gone a few hours. In fact, he had been missing for five days…
Read some chapters from Fire in the Sky by Travis Walton for free & buy the book (much cheaper than on Amazon!) via this link!
The SKYFIRE Conference 2014 is on from 7th-9th November in Arizona! See the teaser trailer via this link!
Travis Walton’s new theory about his abduction!
Travis Walton speaks more about his abduction and his theory on Coast to Coast. Listen to the full interview (Hour 3 & 4 on the mp3 downloads) via this link!
Steve Pierce speaks out:
The Witnesses – John Goulette and Steve Pierce.
Travis Walton didn’t have much say in the making of the movie, and his book is different. However, it still helps to visualise a few things so here are a couple of trailers.
Fan-made Trailer “Fire in the Sky”
Until next time, keep your eyes on the skies!
Your friend, A.D.
Dedicated to Travis Walton, his family and friends
In the mid-1990s, I developed an interest in the UFO and alien abduction phenomenon. I set about becoming a somewhat sceptical UFO investigator. Most of my findings led me to meteorological, astronomical or military activity as conclusions for sightings. One rainy night I got on the train to Stirling. It took about forty five minutes from Glasgow. There was a meeting of the group Strange Phenomena Investigations, in the back room of a local pub. I expected to encounter one or two strange individuals. In fact, they were all just ordinary everyday people, but interested enthusiasts of the subject. They were as keen to know what it was all about, as much as I was. I decided to listen without judgement, lest it cloud my view of what was occurring with these people. Malcolm Robinson, the founder of SPI, was there and introduced me to the group. At one point in the evening, someone began speaking about how aliens were our friends and were not here to harm us. Almost immediately another participant forcefully exploded: “How can you say that?” he cried. “You don’t know that! I have no idea what they are or what they want, but I can tell you one thing…they are not our friends!” I swallowed hard. I could tell by the look on this man’s face that he was completely serious. He said that since his encounter he and his friend, Colin, had problems with friends, family and colleagues who didn’t believe their story and his friend had not been back to work since the incident. I realised I was listening to Garry Wood speaking. He and his friend Colin Wright had reported experiencing an alien abduction on the A70, an incident which was investigated by the Ministry of Defence. They had about ninety minutes of missing time. Now, I have no idea what happened that night, but there is one thing I am completely sure of, Garry Wood certainly believed it had happened. The look on his face was that of a man disturbed, terrified and angered by the experience. You can read the full story of Garry Wood and Colin Wright here.
It’s one of the Big Questions, alongside “Why are we here?” and “Is there a God?” Another thing we are all really curious about is: Are we alone in this universe? Or, is there a remote possibility that somewhere, out there, there is another form of life. If there is, what could it possibly look like? If we were ever to encounter it, how would it behave towards us?
This is the 66th anniversary of the “Roswell Incident”. In July 1947, in Roswell, New Mexico, debris was recovered. Authorities claimed it was a top secret surveillance balloon, but conspiracy theorists have always believed the US military recovered an alien spaceship that day.
In 1995, Ray Santilli claimed to have footage of an alien autopsy being performed on one of the Roswell aliens recovered from the crash. Two years later the US Air Force released a report which said the alien bodies witnesses reported seeing were, in fact, test dummies. In 2006, Santilli admitted the autopsy film was not genuine. However, he insisted it was based on real life events. Nevertheless, there has never been any substantial proof that aliens crashed to Earth in 1947.
There were certainly alien stories prior to the Roswell incident. Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds, a novel by H G Wells, sent many Americans into a state of mass hysteria, thinking that Marsians had invaded. Science-fiction was developing as a popular genre and many scientific discoveries were being made about space. The format of War of the World was news bulletins. With an audience already primed for war, all these things contributed to sending the public into a frenzy.
Nevertheless, after the Roswell incident, the public imagination about aliens and UFOs went wild. It was round about this time that George Adamski was taking photos of flying saucers. The 1950s then saw a huge increase in sci-fi and alien movies. One of my favourites, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), gives the message that the people of Earth must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. The following year Adamski claimed to have met Venusian alien, Orthon, who warned him of the dangers of nuclear war. There are, of course, many criticisms of Adamski and many holes in his stories, which you can read for yourself here.
In 1957, Antônio Vilas-Boas, a Brazilian farmer claimed to have been abducted by aliens. There are other similar abduction stories, but his is the first to receive proper attention. The incident occurred when Boas was only 23 years old, working at night to avoid the hot temperatures during the day. As he was ploughing a field, near São Francisco de Sales, he was approached by what he described as a red star, which as it got closer, became recognisable as a space craft. The full story can be read here.
In 1961, widespread publicity was generated by Betty and Barney Hill, who also claimed to have been abducted by aliens in New Hampshire. The University of New Hampshire have custody of a permanent collection of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items. In 2011, a state historical marker was placed at the site of the alleged encounter. Betty and Barney Hill’s story can be read in full here.
The Hill’s story is highly intriguing, yet many motifs and themes are similar to that of science-fiction being aired at that time. It is thought that these images, coupled with sleep deprivation and false memories recovered during hypnosis, were all part and parcel of the overall experience.
As a hypnotherapist myself, I can say that nowadays regression would never be used to recover memories. The likelihood of false memory syndrome would be a huge factor in discrediting the entire encounter. Any information Betty and Barney Hill gave under hypnosis should be dismissed entirely.
A few years later, attention turned to what our relationship to aliens might be. Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is an extraordinary concept of the imagination. It is a fantastic story, surrounding the discovery of an ancient Martian spacecraft in the London Underground, and the realisation that aliens have influenced human evolution and intelligence since the beginning. The spacecraft seems to stir up memories of the aliens which remain deep in the human psyche. Professor Quatermass is convinced that all our beliefs and fears of devils and such like are, in fact, tied up with these memories of our encounters with the Martians.
The term “close encounter” was coined in 1972 by Josef Allen Hynek (1910-1986) in his book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry. Hynek proposed there were three types of close encounter:
Close Encounters of the First Kind are sightings of one or more UFOs at a distance of 500 feet or less.
Close Encounters of the Second Kind are sightings of a UFO which were accompanied by physical effects such as heat, electrical interference etc.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind involve the sighting of an animated being (presumably alien but not specifically defined as such).
Other categories have since developed, including having contact, being abducted, those involving death, those involving hybrid creations and sexual encounters. There are also sub-categories to the Third Kind according to whether the perceived alien is inside or outside their UFO, there are any other witnesses, the alien is injured or captured etc. All categories can be read here.
Following this initial categorisation by Hynek, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) explored the phenomenon. It turned out the aliens were quite nice really, and usually returned abducted children happy and uninjured. I jest. It’s actually another of my favourite films, quite unnerving in parts, but ultimately a “feel good” ending. Spielberg carried on with his view of the alien as the good guy with E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in 1982, which had everyone in love, and saying a tearful goodbye to their favourite alien, by the end of the movie.
The same year, Bill Lancaster (son of Burt) wrote the screenplay for The Thing (directed by John Carpenter), which assured us that we were in mortal peril from E.T. Here the alien is a parasite which assimilates other lifeforms and imitates them. Who can you trust? That is the Big Question this time. Someone might look like your friend, or your pet husky, but are they in fact an alien in disguise…?
By 1993, we were sticking with the alien as foe. Fire in the Sky is possibly one of the creepiest and most unnerving alien abduction stories, not least of all because it’s based on the events depicted by Travis Walton who claimed to have had a real life encounter. What actually happened that night is largely undetermined and many still believe it was one big hoax. The film is certainly an exaggeration of Walton’s own account from his book The Walton Experience.
On the evening of 5th November 1975, logger Travis Walton and his co-workers, on their way home, encounter a UFO. Travis gets out the car, is hit by a beam of light, the others take off in their car. One of them, Mike Rogers, returns to the scene later but Travis is nowhere to be found. Initially the incident is investigated as a murder enquiry. The boys take a lie-detector test, which is inconclusive and five days later Travis turns up disorientated and hysterical at a gas station. Travis initially fails his first polygraph, which is claimed to have used out-dated methods. Two subsequent ones revealed him to be telling the truth. The entire story can be read here.
Various invasion films have been made over the last ten years or so: Independence Day (1996), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007). Then in 2009, The Fourth Kind came to cinemas. It is a mockumentary science-fiction thriller based on disappearances in Alaska. It’s a fairly good film, though not an exceptionally good advert for hypnosis (once again!), and its supposed realistic background gives the viewer plenty to think about. Similar to Quatermass, the alien life-forms are tied to an ancient civilisation. This time the Sumerians. They are bound up once more in our beliefs of supernatural beings, including God.
We do indeed live in a strange world, full of seemingly inexplicable occurrences. It would do a great injustice to both science and victims if I were to simply cast aside all accounts of alien abduction as mere hallucinations. However, the truth is often stranger than fiction and every bit as intriguing. Similar supernatural experiences have happened since practically the dawn of time and they all bear remarkable similarities to one another. Supernatural kidnappings, abductions and attacks have been reported going right back into ancient times, passed down through folklore. Faery kidnappings and alien abductions contain some terrifying parallels. Even ancient Gods, in mythology, were known to kidnap mortals. Noise of some sort often accompanies such abductions. In faery lore it might be music, in alien accounts it’s usually humming or buzzing sounds.
As someone who has experienced a very realistic encounter of a supernatural entity, during what is termed by psychologists to be sleep paralysis (with hallucination), I know what it feels like. I know, too, that most experiences happen during the sleeping state, and have been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My experiences most often happen during stressful times. These “visitors” most often terrify us at night, be they incubus/succubus demons, fairies or aliens, and there is often a sexual element to them. There is also an association with missing time, which is reported not just in the Hills or Walton cases, but also in ancient folklore. For example, there is a Welsh folk tale of Rhys and Llewellyn who heard music when they were walking home one night. Rhys follows the music, whilst Llewellyn goes home. Months pass without Rhys being seen, until finally Llewellyn goes to the spot where they heard the music and finds Rhys dancing in a faery ring claiming to only have been there for five minutes (1). It’s also common for those who have experienced the abduction phenomenon to have marks on their bodies: faery bruising, witches marks placed by the Devil and alien needle marks, all seem to be very similar occurrences. What they actually are, is very difficult to say.
In fact, could all of these experiences be entirely natural phenomena, triggered by stress? Does stress release certain chemicals in the brain which interferes with normal functioning, causing people to experience supernatural encounters? (Stress and sleep deprivation both trigger off my own sleep paralysis, but thankfully I’m quite big on relaxation, yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis these days!). Or do we, somewhere in our psyches, have the key to communicate with other realms, as Terence McKenna has suggested, linking the ingestion of certain kinds of hallucinogenic mushrooms to the ability to see other realms which are always there anyway. Perhaps polar magnetism makes a difference – as areas in the north, such as Iceland and Scandinavian countries, seem to find the existence of faery and troll entities a completely normal part of life. Are alien encounters a more scientific equivalent, more prevalent in other parts of the world?
I leave you with this, and the thought that in the scale of the universe Earth really is very tiny indeed. In that vastness we called “space” can we really possibly be the only significant life forms….?
I’d love to hear from you if you have ever experienced any supernatural encounter…of any kind! Please leave comments below!
Your friend, A.D.
(1) Boston, James R. (1881)Wirt, Sikes, British goblins: Welsh folk lore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions, Osgood & Company, p 70-71.
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