Friday, February 1, 2013

The Travis Walton Incident

Note: Much of what your about to read is taken from The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial by Jerome Clark.

It occurred to me that I have not done a UFO post in a while.

In an effort to rectify that, I thought I would write today about a UFO case that has long intrigued me.  It does so mainly because I simply cannot make up my mind about it while nevertheless it has become one of the more well-known abduction cases in the field of Ufology.  It goes like this...

Travis Walton was a logger in Arizona.  On November 5, 1975, Walton and six other men were doing a job outside of Turkey Springs, Arizona.  The loggers were behind on their contract and were therefore working until the sun was low.  As they made the drive back to town, they saw a glow in the trees and thought it to be a forest fire. The light turned out to be from a disc-shaped UFO, hovering over a clearing.  Walton jumped from the loggers' truck and approached the UFO despite the protests on his co-workers.

The loggers then claimed that a blue-green beam of light shot from the craft and struck Walton.  Walton's body went stiff and then dropped to the ground, motionless.  Believing Walton dead and not mention being scared out of their gourds, the other loggers drove off.  They later returned to the scene to look for Walton but found no sign of him.  The saucer was gone as well.

Local law enforcement was skeptical of the tale to say the least.  Together, the loggers were accused of everything from having kidnapped or killed Walton to attempting to punk out on their logging contract by claiming an "act of God."  The men were given polygraph tests.  Each of them passed, save for one of their number who refused to complete the examination.  Meanwhile, a search continued in the hills for Walton.  No sign of him was found.

Walton returned on November 10th, 1975 at just before midnight.  He called a family member from a payphone and was summarily picked up.  So what happened to him?  Well, Travis Walton's narrative goes something like this...

After being hit with the beam, Walton woke up on a reclined bed of sorts.  Bright lights hung above him.  At first, Walton believed himself to be in a hospital.  Then he saw the three beings standing next to him, each wearing an orange jumpsuit and having the classic appearance of a "Grey" alien.  Terrified, Walton grabbed the object nearest to him: a glass-like rod on a shelf.  He attempted to break the rod, thus turning it into a makeshift weapon, but the object would not break.  Still, his brandishing of the object was enough to convince the aliens to flee the room.

Walton then exited the apparent "examination room" and wandered a bit through the rest of the UFO.  In time he found a white room similar in construction to a planetarium with a single chair in its center. Devices on the chair allowed the user to transform the room into a massive "viewport" of stars.

Hearing a noise behind him, Walton turned and saw a human male wearing a glass space helmet and blue coveralls.  The man smiled and motioned for Walton to follow him.  Walton was brought what he described as "an aircraft hangar."  In fact, his description sounds to me rather like those under-deck hangars on aircraft carriers.  Several other disc-shaped craft were visible in this "landing bay" of sorts.  There were also other humans, both male and female and all of them smiling.  They led him up a steep plank into one of the saucers and a door closed behind them.  Before Walton could do anything else, a mask was placed upon him and he blacked out.

He awoke outside a gas station in Heber, Arizona with a UFO hovering over him.  After a moment, the UFO darted away, leaving Walton to go find a payphone.

Oh what to think.  First off, this is an entirely atypical abduction.  Walton was not immobilized and was able to escape his abductors, even managing to threaten them despite his supposedly weakened condition.  He was also taken for a much longer period of time than the standard abduction and he appears to have full memory of it.  The appearance of human (like) beings is also unique.  I don't know if any of this really speaks for or against the story's veracity, but there it is.  What's more, there never seems to be clear indication of the motives of either alien race other than the perhaps intended examination of what, to the Greys, must seem an atavistic race.

Was this all a hoax cooked up by the loggers?  We can't rule that out.  Philip Klass certainly thought so, but he seems hellbent to call even breathing a hoax, so I don't take him all that seriously (you can find his points here).  Klass also brought up the notion that the loggers were attempting to get out of their contract via an "act of God" claim.  Interestingly enough, Walton's co-workers never once asked for such a thing during all of their interrogations.

That's another thing.  For a time, it was looking more and more likely that Travis Walton's coworkers would face criminal charges, maybe even murder.  Under that application of pressure, wouldn't most people confess the hoax just to put an end to the risk?  Or maybe you wouldn't if you knew that Travis would be back in five days and you'd be in the clear.  At any rate, all of the loggers would need to be in on it and the more people involved in a charade, the more likely it is that someone will slip up and spill the beans.

Have they profited from this?  I suppose Walton certainly has with books and the movie Fire in the Sky based on his alleged experience.  But that's really it.  Today, he still lives in the same town in Arizona, working as a foreman in a lumber yard.  Other than a few appearances on the UFO convention circuit, his life for all appearances seems very normal.  If this were a hoax meant to propel him to fame and fortune, I'm not so sure it succeeded.  Indeed, Travis Walton sticks to his story to this day and has been quoted several times as saying "I really don't care if you believe me" and seems content to live out his life in relative obscurity.  To be fair, however, Travis Walton was the subject of intense media attention at the time his story broke.

And this is why the case intrigues me so.  I simply don't know what the truth is for I can see arguments for either side.  I don't see a whole lot of evidence for the abduction.  By the same token, there are seven people attesting to the same incident and have passed (all but one anyway) polygraph tests on the matter.  Then again, polygraphs are now found to be nearly all but worthless.

Back and forth.  Back and forth.  And so it goes.
Travis Walton appears to be a man of good character and I'm certainly not calling him a liar.  I just hope that evidence might one day come to light that validates the incident once and for all.

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