The Travis Walton UFO Incident; A Famous, Contentious Abduction

3D illustration. Spacecraft alien floating over the trees with tractor beam.

When Travis Walton was 22 years old, he was working a logging contract in central Arizona in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. While driving home one evening, Walton and his co-workers came across a hovering disk-shaped object that drew him closer to get a better look. What ensued became known as the Travis Walton UFO incident.

Walton jumped out of his truck and approached the flying object, against the will of his colleagues. When he got within close proximity, he was struck with a jolt of energy that hurled him 20 feet through the air, knocking him unconscious and scaring off his friends. Walton allegedly woke up laying on a gurney in what he thought was a hospital emergency room.

His chest was heavy and his vision blurry, as he struggled to gather his bearings and figure out where he was. But when he focused his line of sight, he found a trio of extraterrestrials wearing orange surgical gowns, staring at him with, “luminous brown eyes the size of quarters.”

Walton disappeared for nearly a week, before he turned up in Snowflake, AZ, traumatized and bewildered by the chain of events he experienced.

Unlock this full-length video to watch Travis Walton discuss his famous abduction

The Travis Walton UFO Incident

Travis Walton’s UFO incident is one of the most famous cases in the annals of ufology and abduction. The story is also one of the more highly contentious cases in a realm that has had its fair share of attention-seekers and frauds.

After Walton returned, he and the six coworkers who supposedly witnessed his abduction, submitted to a battery of psychiatric and polygraph tests, many of which they voluntarily subjected themselves to. Walton himself has since taken 16 different lie detector tests, including one on a popular Fox game show called The Moment of Truth.

After being asked a series of questions regarding his life and UFO experience, Walton was blatantly asked if he was abducted by aliens on Nov. 5, 1975, upon which he replied a resounding, “yes!” After a dramatic pause, the gameshow’s effeminate android voice responded, “that answer is… false,” claiming his response was a lie.

The game show’s polygraph methods were highly dubious and have since been called out as having almost no legitimacy. The goal of the show was to set up contestants to expose major life secrets, disgracing them in front of friends and family. This inevitably leads to a biased atmosphere with expected outcomes, so there’s no way one could look at the results of this reality T.V. show as having any objective credibility.

Walton said he initially turned down the show’s offer to have him on as a contestant, but conceded that he had recently been laid off from his job and was in need of money.

Walton has continued to tell his story over the past 43 years without discrepancies or incongruities in his memory and the details he claims. The other crew members with him that night have all maintained their side of the story and even refused $10,000 bribes to contradict the official narrative.

In the tests administered to Walton’s crew the night he was allegedly abducted, Arizona’s polygraph expert, Cy Gilson, determined, “examinations prove that these five men did see some object that they believe to be a UFO…”

Walton points to this as the best hard evidence supporting his case, saying the odds of five men fooling a polygraph test on the same subject are a million in one, citing the president of the American Polygraph Association. Only one member of the group didn’t pass, but his test was marked “inconclusive.”


travis walton polygraph


The Fire in the Sky Movie

In recent years, Walton has wondered if he may have been killed that night when he was struck by the UFO’s bolt of energy. He says he believes it’s possible he was unintentionally shocked by energy that was the result of the craft’s propulsion system. Realizing he had been killed, the extraterrestrial entities may have brought him aboard the craft and resuscitated him.

Walton continues to speak about his experience to this day, making appearances at UFO conventions, while taking interviews from a multitude of skeptics and believers. His story became one of the classic abduction stories after the movie Fire in the Sky was produced in 1993, recounting his experience in Hollywood’s overly dramatized way.

Though the movie varies slightly from Walton’s story, it was critically acclaimed and has remained a cult classic among sci-fi fans. Following the movie’s success, Walton appeared on major cable network news programs, including Larry King Live. There’s even a band that named themselves The Travis Waltons, as well as others that have paid tribute to him.  

Philip Klass: A True Skeptic or Disinformation Agent?

One of Walton’s biggest detractors was Phillip J. Klass, an investigative journalist and UFO researcher who aired on the side of skepticism, to put it mildly. Klass didn’t make very many friends in the field of ufology, though his skepticism was welcomed by those who believed he contributed to a more objective viewpoint on the phenomenon.

Famous ufologist, James Moseley, was one such advocate of Klass’ work, though he said he didn’t always approve of his style and the way he attacked believers. Klass, in his last will and testament left a curse on the field of ufology saying:

“To ufologists who publicly criticize me, … or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE: No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse.”

So, it comes as no surprise that Klass didn’t believe Walton’s story, and subsequently pointed out some questionable aspects of his narrative. Klass said Walton did not pass his initial polygraph test, nor did the men who allegedly witnessed the event. According to Klass, the first polygraph test Walton cited as having passed was not actually the first, but the second.

Klass said he had hard evidence that Walton had received a polygraph test from an examiner named John McCarthy, an expert trained at the Army’s Fort Gordon polygraph school. McCarthy determined that Walton was attempting to perpetrate a hoax and that he used tactics such as holding his breath to try to fool the machine.

However, McCarthy said this test was paid for and the results published in a report for the National Enquirer, one of the most notoriously untrustworthy tabloid publications there is. It’s ironic that such a dubious publication would be cited as hard evidence.

In a heated debate on Larry King Live between Klass, Walton, and Mike Rogers (one of the men who allegedly witnessed Walton’s abduction), Klass attacks the validity of the men’s story, whereupon Rogers accuses Klass of being a government disinformation agent. Klass, clearly upset, begins swearing at Rogers, saying, “I’ve caught you in numerous lies, and you know it!”

Klass’ m.o. included ad hominem attacks, smear campaigns, and frantic outbursts, detracting from his case against Walton and Rogers. While a healthy amount of skepticism is always necessary when examining unbelievable cases, it helps to remain calm and composed when giving an objective, level-headed view.

Unfortunately, Klass is no longer here today to defend himself, though his curse to the world of ufology lives on. Meanwhile, Walton continues to defend and recount his story ad infinitum.

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