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The events which allegedly happened to Travis Walton 41 years ago are one of the world’s most infamous so-called alien abduction cases.
But, it now appears he may not actually have been abducted after all – but instead rescued.
The twist in the story has been revealed by UFO researcher JP Robinson, after a meeting with Mr Walton at an alien conference.
The case began in November 1975 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, near Phoenix, Arizona, when six forestry worker colleagues of Mr Walton’s reported him missing after they allegedly saw him get blasted back 20 feet by an energy beam from a UFO that “appeared over the trees”.
Officers thought it was an elaborate cover up and that they had actually killed him and disposed of the body.
But five days later he turned-up, saying he had been abducted by aliens and had been forced to punch his way out.
He relayed what happened in his book Fire In The Sky which was turned into a Hollywood movie of the same name in 1993.
He claims to have seen three grey aliens on the UFO, and later, human-looking beings described as “smooth-skinned and blemish-less”.
Now, Mr Robinson has relayed the new details on his website.
He wrote: “I was never convinced of the authenticity of this incident, not to say I didn’t believe it, just that you can never be wholly sure.
“All that changed when I met Travis Walton… and got the fantastic opportunity to speak face to face with the man who claims to have met beings from another world, and try to figure out whether he is for real or just a really good liar!
Travis Walton claims he was killed by a UFO then aliens inside it saved his life.
“After having spent quality time in his presence and talking privately about his experience, I can only conclude that this man really did meet these beings aboard their ship.
“What wasn’t clear before was the question of why would they ‘zap’ him with that beam of light to begin with?
“It’s all a bit too sci-fi for me.”
However, he said he now realises it was an accident, which killed Mr Walton.
He said: ”Travis was in the wrong place at the wrong time and should never have been stood so close to such an incredible machine.
“He himself explained that he was just about to turn back to the truck seconds before being struck.
“It now seems that as the craft was preparing to take off into the night sky it inadvertently knocked Travis for six, killing him in the process.
“Yes, you read that right. Travis told me that he believed that he was actually dead.
“So now we get to the real question which so many people ask…why did they take him on board? Well, according to the man himself, they took him in order to save his life – and this they clearly succeeded in doing.”
Mr Robinson said the story now had a “more legitimate tone”.
Travis Walton in 1975 around the time of the bizarre incident.
Yes, you read that right. Travis told me that he believed that he was actually dead.
He added it was “an accident and an act of humanitarianism.”
He said: “Travis Walton has made me believe again, or should I say know again, that we truly are in the midst of something remarkable and it is only a matter of time before the bigger picture is revealed.”
Now, 41 years on, Mr Walton and his former co-workers still maintain their account of what is recognised as the world’s most remarkable UFO sighting and alien abduction claim on record.
The team, who were on a tree-thinning project, have all passed lie detector tests over the remarkable incident in November 1975, adding credibility to their account.
The seven of them reported how they were driving in the forest in a truck when they first saw mysterious lights which then appeared to be a flying saucer up in the canopy.
A mesmerised Mr Walton was the only one among them to venture out of the vehicle and approach the craft, despite his colleagues pleading with him not to go near.
Mr Walton said: “My eyes were just riveted on this thing. Then it threw me back through the air 20 feet.”
His colleagues reported seeing him fly backwards with his back arched from a beam of light bearing down from the craft.
The terrified men fled in the vehicle, but returned later when there was no trace of the UFO or Mr Walton.
Mr Walton insists he woke up inside an alien craft, lying on a table and surrounded by three aliens with other humanoid looking beings in the background.
He said: “I got this rush of adrenaline and jumped from the table and just lashed out. Then I blacked out and woke up on the side of the road and ran to the nearest call box and collapsed.”
What he didn’t know at the time was he had been gone for five days.
There are still sceptics however, and those who claim it was an elaborate hoax.
The www.occupytheory.org website, part of the Occupy movement, is not convinced by the story and points out there were no witnesses to Mr Walton being drawn up into the spacecraft, adding that he could have hid for five days before reappearing.
In a report about the case, the website said: “Once Walton returned he wouldn’t just talk to the press.
“He’d only talk with publications that believed in UFOs.
“The story ran in the National Enquirer in 1975.”
It also claimed he failed a lie detector carried out by the Enquirer and there was a history of UFO/alien claims among his immediate family before the “abduction”.