95% of UFO sightings can be written off as nothing: weather phenomena; misidentified aircraft; mistakenly identified stars or planets. 5% cannot be explained. In this series we’ll be looking at the mass sightings. The abductions. The unexplained deaths. Real cases, with real people.
These are the 5%. These, are the UFO files.
This week, it's part two of the Travis Walton Abduction case. In case you missed it, here's part one.
It’s been five days since Travis Walton disappeared in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Snowflake, Arizona. The November nights have been cold, some of them sub-zero, and the police are becoming more certain by the day that one of Walton’s co-workers who reported him missing is more than likely his killer. Far from convinced of the strange story of UFOs told by the six men who did return from the forest, they subjected the forest workers to polygraph tests. Police are dumbfounded when five of the men pass, one result is inconclusive. Over 50 searchers, helicopters, and sniffer dogs have been searching the area where Travis disappeared, to no avail. Wary of being hoodwinked, the police have released a picture of Travis Walton, asking anyone with any information to come forward.
Nobody has responded.
If the five days since the disappearance have been difficult for the police, they have been hell for the family. The press have been interested from the off, but since the men passed the lie-detector tests, scrutiny has reached fever-pitch. Worse than that, the family have been receiving prank phone calls. Every time the phone rings, it’s either a reporter looking for a scoop, or a member of the public making fun of them and their story. So when the phone rings on the fifth evening of Travis’s absence, his brother-in-law Grant is reluctant to pick up. The only feeling stronger than that reluctance is the desire to know where Travis is, so he answers.
On the other end of the line is a garbled, excited voice. Another prank. Grant is about to hang up, when the voice becomes clear. “It’s me! It’s Travis!”
He jumps in his truck and heads for the location ‘Travis’ gave. After five days, it’s natural to believe that this is probably just another cruel hoax. But to not check it out would be unforgivable. He picks up Travis’s brother Duane on the way and they head for the gas station from where Travis made the call.
They arrives at the phone booth to see Travis, naked, slumped inside. They grab him and load him into the truck. Travis isn’t making much sense. They tell him they’ve been looking for him and that they were worried sick. Looking at the clock, Travis sees that it is after midnight and apologises. Duane tells Travis to touch his face. Travis feels his chin and the growth of beard there, baffled as he’d only shaved ‘that morning’. “Travis, you’ve been gone for five days.”
While friends and family (and not least Allen Dalis) are relieved to see Travis return, some are none too impressed. By now the police are convinced they’ve been taken for the proverbial ride. And for every UFO nut who has arrived in town, there are as many journalists and sceptics who think this whole thing has been an elaborate charade. They are in for quite the surprise.
The police want answers. Travis is questioned, and his story is out of this world.
He claims that he woke up at the side of the road because of the feeling of cool air against his skin. When he looked up, he saw another disc. This one not illuminated, just hovering by the side of the road. In an instant it shot upward into the night sky and was gone. From there, Travis made his way to the phone and made the reverse charge call to his sister, where Grant answered. The police want to know where he has been for the past five days. Still badly shaken from his experience, Travis tries to put his experience into words.
After approaching the UFO in the forest, he was hit by a beam of light and thrown backwards. At this point he must have lost consciousness, because when he awakes, he’s no longer in the forest. Now he’s in a small, damp room, lying fully dressed on a table he thinks is at the hospital. He wonders why they haven’t taken his clothes off. He turns to one of the ‘doctors’ to ask what is going on. That’s when he turns to the people surrounding him to see that they are not people at all.
Looking back at him are four creatures less than five feet tall, with over-sized heads, and eyes with irises so large that the whites of their eyes can barely be seen. Travis screams and grabs the nearest object, a kind of lightweight pipe, to use as a weapon. He swings it at the creatures, telling them to get back. They turn and leave the room. Travis scrambles to his feet, desperately trying to get his bearings. He moves quickly to the door, checks the curved hallway, and turns left. There he reaches another door. Heart pounding, he enters the room and sees a chair, facing away. He creeps behind the chair, unable to see if anyone is sitting in it, desperately wanting to avoid any further interaction with the small beings he has just encountered. As he gets closer to the chair in the centre of the room, the strangest thing happens: the walls become translucent, and Travis can see beyond them, into a sea of stars. Relieved to see that the chair is empty, he sits and inspects the control panel before him. Worried that touching anything will alert his captors to his presence, he quickly leaves and re-enters the hallway, moving on to another room, where he’s relieved to see another human. Over six-feet tall. Travis tries to engage in conversation, but this tall figure remains silent, leading Travis to another room.
In this room are three more people - two men and a woman. He asks them where they are and what is going on and is again met with silence. They led him to a table and made him lie down. Wondering what was going to happen to him, he lost consciousness, the next thing he knows, he’s naked at the roadside.
The police make the shaken Travis Walton take a lie-detector test. Given Walton’s confused mental state, rather unsurprisingly, the test comes back all over the place, indicating deception. But that is not the end of the story.
Since then, Travis Walton has passed 12 separate lie-detector tests.
One of the crewmen was offered $10,000 to ‘come clean’ and denounce the whole story. While he must surely have been tempted by such a large sum, he declined.
Many have claimed that the whole story was a hoax, yet none have been able to provide proof to substantiate their claims. In the five days that Travis was missing, no evidence of Travis was found in the woods, and not one person came forward saying they had seen him. In the face of ridicule and scrutiny, none of the men have changed their story, despite being offered financial temptation to do so. While Travis Walton has made money from the event, he had to wait years before that was possible. In those years he faced mockery and surely must have been tempted to say that it was not true. During that time, nobody came forward to say it was a hoax, and it was by no means certain that sticking to his guns would have led to financial benefit. Travis did not change one word of his story.
So, you're interested in UFOs? Want to read more? Sure you do! Click here for an excerpt from my UFO thriller The Event.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.