I never believed close encounters of the third kind were possible…until one terrifying story changed my mind.
November 5, 1975
Twenty-two-year-old Travis Walton was working for a logging company in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest when he and his six colleagues saw a bright light in the sky on their way home. When they drove closer to investigate, they reportedly saw a large golden disk hovering above a clearing.
Ignoring the warnings from his friends, Walton jumped out of the truck and ran up to the craft. A blue-green beam of light shot Walton in the chest and he fell to the ground. His friends and co-workers drove off in terror (nice friends!) before getting a conscience and coming back a few minutes later.
By the time they returned, both Walton and the mysterious object were gone. The men searched for their friend for a while, and then–realizing it was hopeless–went to the police.
Deputy Sheriff Chuck Ellison met the crew at a shopping center. All of the men were distraught as they related the tale to him (two were in tears), and though he was somewhat skeptical of the fantastic account, Ellison would later reflect, “If they were acting, they were awfully good at it.”
The guys were so freaked out that only a few agreed to help the police search for Walton the following day. When the authorities found no sign of Walton (although some reports say there was a large circle of burnt grass in the clearing), they grew suspicious that the other men had murdered Walton and were using a crazy UFO story as a cover-up.
Frustrated by the accusations, all of the men agreed to take a polygraph, and every single one of them passed, except for Allen Dallis, who stormed out of the examining room, leaving his test unfinished and therefore inconclusive.
Tensions were high by the time Walton reappeared five days later. The young logger was noticeably thinner and weaker, disoriented and confused. He only remembered two hours of the five days he’d been gone, but what he remembered was incredible. He’d not only encountered aliens, but strange, humanlike creatures who had led him into some kind of hangar and then knocked him out with a type of gas.
A hypnotherapist and a medical doctor examined Walton soon after his return. The hypnotherapist found that Walton’s conscious memories of the incident were remarkably similar to his subconscious ones, while the doctor noted a strange needle mark that wasn’t near a vein, and the absence of ketones in his urine. The doctor found this strange, as Walton’s body should have begun breaking down fats to survive during the five days with little-to-no food.
Aided by this and the persistent presence of skeptics and the National Inquirer, public opinion turned against Walton and the other men. There are numerous reasons people still believe Walton’s encounter was a hoax.
- Walton failed his initial polygraph, but the examiner was confrontative and offensive, deliberately provoking Walton in order to get a reaction. Walton did pass subsequent polygraphs.
- The men were behind on their work with the logging company, and some believed the abduction was staged to release them from their contract without penalty. But the crew never tried to get out of their contract, even after Walton went missing, and they’d fallen behind on other projects for the same company, only to be hired again.
- Walton’s brother once casually remarked to police that Walton was a UFO buff. Walton denied that he ever was, but the damage was done.
- Police felt Walton’s mother was too stoic about her son’s disappearance, but many others reported seeing her very upset, and said an initial stoic reaction was just part of the woman’s personality.
- A television movie about an alien abduction was broadcast weeks before Walton’s disappearance. Skeptics say this gave Walton the idea for his elaborate hoax.
- Walton also apparently failed a polygraph on the television game show “The Moment of Truth.” But, had he passed, the game show would have owed him a lot of money, so I’m not sure how reliable that was. Plus, it was a Fox show. Enough said.
I think there’s another reason people doubt Walton’s story, and I hope, on the rare chance he ever stumbles across this post, he will forgive me, but…
Walton is creepy. When you watch interviews with him, something just isn’t right. He looks into the camera without flinching, but his affect is unnervingly flat and monotone. He doesn’t come across as a likeable guy, and I’ve seen public opinion turn against people like him time and time again. People can tell the truth until they’re blue in the face, and if we don’t like them, we won’t believe them.
The biggest thing driving the hoax accusations is that old claim–“They did it for attention!” or “They did it for money!”
Several of the men have spoken publicly about how this incident ruined their lives. These men have to go through the rest of their lives knowing that many of the people they meet have decided they are liars. Some, like Steve Pierce, were and are devastated by this.
Yes, Walton wrote a book about his experience, but if I’d had people call me a liar for three years, I’d want to publish my side of the story too. And who knows how easy it was for Walton to get work after his abduction? I’m guessing it was a struggle.
As for money, Steve Pierce was offered $10,000 to admit the entire thing was a hoax.
What do you think? Are Walton and the rest of the crew telling the truth?
As for me, I believe them. I’m not sure Walton was actually examined by extraterrestrials, but I do believe something strange happened to him on that night in 1975, and I believe the men who witnessed it are absolutely telling the truth.