The 1993 Paramount Pictures film “Fire in the Sky” brought a mysterious tale of abduction by extra-terrestrials to the big screen. But according to 1973 North Penn High School grad, self-taught filmmaker and Radnor Studio Channel 21 host Jennifer W. Stein, they didn’t get the story that inspired the movie completely right.
So Stein — whose program focuses on the Main Line MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) group — sought to revisit a 1975 UFO incident in the Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona in ways that had not been examined before. The result is the documentary “Travis: The True Story of Travis Walton,” which will be featured in a public screening this weekend in Bryn Mawr, followed by a question-and-answer panel with Stein, her coproducer Bob Terrio and Walton himself.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it happened as they recounted it,” Stein said of Walton and his six fellow logging workers, who still stand by their story of seeing a 40-foot disk hovering over the crest of a ridge as they were driving home after a day of clearing brush. According to Stein’s film, Walton, who was then 22, jumped from the passenger side of the truck he was riding in with his crew, ran towards the light, thinking it was a fire or a plane crash, and was struck unconscious by a blue beam of light from the craft. Walton went missing for five days and was thought to have been murdered, until he was found in a state of confusion.
“This story broke in three parts — a missing person, a homicide and a UFO sighting,” said Stein, who claims to have seen a UFO herself in 1975, when she was 19 years old. “Travis is a person who came into contact with extra-terrestrial beings. There’s no reason for him to make this up.”
The men were ridiculed by the locals of Snowflake, Ariz. after word of the strange encounter became public knowledge. “This event destroyed most of their lives. This was not something you talked about. This is a town where they didn’t want media attention,” she said. “I was creating healing by bringing these boys together.”
Among the others that appear on camera in “Travis” is a law enforcement officer that administered polygraph tests to the loggers.
In November 1975 newspaper stories, the Navajo County, Ariz. sheriff’s office said on the record that they doubted the accuracy of Walton’s statement that he was aboard a UFO.
Watch an interview that Stein conducted with Walton for the “Main Line MUFON Television” show on what he recalls from the moments after he approached the UFO at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8iAMaAUAVg&feature=youtu.be.
According to Stein, Walton and his family were not only approached by news media, but were also harassed by paranormal debunkers. One skeptic is Harvard University psychologist Susan A. Clancy, who mentions Walton’s story in her 2005 book “Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens.”
Decide for yourself Oct. 29 after watching “Travis” at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy. This screening is a benefit for local public access cable channel Radnor Studio Channel 21. See a trailer at www.traviswaltonmovie.com.