Travis Walton and his witnesses - to this day - describe the UFO in dramatic terms, and the recreations for film - like the one above for the Sci-Fi Channel in 2012 - reinforce the image of a blindingly bright, spinning disc in a forest clearing.
But what did they report at the time?
1. The flying saucer was not in a clearing.
Steve Pierce is one of the seven witnesses to Travis Walton’s 1975 UFO and “abduction”. I’ve been corresponding with him since July 2021. It’s been a rocky road. Over time, he’s opened up about doubts that he doesn't voice on podcasts. His thoughts have shifted.
A reflexive reaction from many experiencers is to assume skeptics are accusing them of lying. I have always told Steve I think he was duped, and he has always struck me as someone very concerned with getting the details right. He was initially angry with me for explaining the many indications this incident was a hoax, and even when we came to a friendlier understanding he has been reluctant to consider the possibility.
Even so, he did express doubts about parts of the story. He considers Travis to be a liar and “the kind of guy who went to a party and everyone else left.” He says Mike never paid him, and told lies about him that ended up in Travis's book and which Travis refuses to correct. These things may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but they're important to him.
A few days ago, Steve wrote to me: "It was a hoax."
Travis Walton is one of the world’s most famous alien abductees. His story has survived largely because of the six witnesses who have never recanted, including logging crew boss Mike Rogers.
Recently I corresponded with Mike’s ex-wife “K”. In 1975 she and Mike were married with four very young daughters and living in Snowflake AZ.
When I created this site, I included Travis Walton's story as a classic alien abduction story. I wasn't satisfied with Philip Klass's interpretation that all the men were lying. His 1978 interviews with Steve Pierce didn't suggest that, and if all were complicit there would've been no need to create an actual flying saucer at all. They could've simply invented their story on the job.
I preferred the explanation first proposed in 1976 by Raymond E. Fowler, that the hoax was perpetrated by two men (Travis and Mike Rogers) on the other five, using a paper balloon or similar model.
While Travis Walton's abduction tale aboard a flying saucer is beat-for-beat almost identical to a couple of Heinlein stories, a few details seem to have been drawn from other science fiction sources of the era.
Curt Collins posted a 1967 comic on UFO UpDates with aliens and their "surgery" that bear similarities to Travis's alleged experience. Then there's Captain Kirk's command chair, Dr McCoy's medical equipment, and the 2001: A Space Odyssey cockpit screens and buttons...
Not to disparage classic science fiction, which at the time looked futuristic, but I'd be so disappointed if a real alien spaceship looked like it came from the imaginations of 1960s Hollywood writers.
Read my update with illustrations and quotes from Travis's book.
The Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO) field investigator on the scene of the Travis Walton case (Nov 5, 1975), Ray Jordan, has made a statement reflecting on his involvement. So today I'm reflecting on one deceptively tiny detail of the case that I think symbolizes a bigger problem.
Sometimes it takes 46 years for the full picture to emerge. But this particular red flag was waving in the faces of the investigators from the get-go.
For the past six weeks I've been corresponding with Steve Pierce, one of the witnesses to the Travis Walton incident in 1975. At the time he was a 17-year-old "new kid" in town, whose mother made him take the job on Mike Rogers' team even though his uncles and cousin had just quit because Mike hadn't paid on time.
Continuing with Peter Robbins' roundtable podcast, I've responded in two more tweet storms. Here are all three:
Addressing the roundtable's devastating takedown* of the Gentry Tower theory (Travis Walton hoax)
Addressing the supposition that Charlie Wiser is a unit
Addressing Kathleen Marden, who addressed me, re. the Hills case
*You be the judge
You can’t hindsight anything. What happened happened, so why think you can do anything about it now? ... In reality there’s almost nothing that can be proven. All there really is, is evidence. - Mike Rogers, July 16th, 2021
Mike Rogers just appeared on a UFO Classified with Erica Lukes livestream on July 16th with the same ol' tale and a few bizarre tangents. Erica encouraged him to emphatically state he was not involved in any hoax:
I'm blogging about the Three-Dollar Kit.