Betty and Barney Hill abduction

Betty and Barney Hill abduction

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Encyclopedia
Betty and Barney Hill were an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 couple who claimed to have been abducted by extraterrestrials
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 in a rural portion of New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 on September 19–20, 1961.

The couple's story, called the Hill Abduction, and occasionally the Zeta Reticuli
Zeta Reticuli
Zeta Reticuli is a binary star system located about away from Earth. It is located in the constellation Reticulum, and is visible to the unaided eye in very dark skies...

 Incident
, was that they had been kidnapped for a short time by a UFO. Theirs was the first widely-publicized claim of alien abduction, adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television movie The UFO Incident.

Its importance is such that many of Betty Hill's notes, tapes and other items have been placed in a permanent collection at the University of New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire is a public university in the University System of New Hampshire , United States. The main campus is in Durham, New Hampshire. An additional campus is located in Manchester. With over 15,000 students, UNH is the largest university in New Hampshire. The university is...

, her alma mater. As of July 2011, the site of the craft's first close approach is marked by a state historical marker
Historical marker
A historical marker or historic marker is an indicator such as a plaque or sign to commemorate an event or person of historic interest and to associate that point of interest with a specific locale one can visit.-Description:...

.

Background


The Hills lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is a city in Rockingham County, New Hampshire in the United States. It is the largest city but only the fourth-largest community in the county, with a population of 21,233 at the 2010 census...

. Barney (1922–1969) was employed by the U.S. Postal Service, while Betty (1919–2004) was a social worker. Active in a Unitarian
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 congregation, the Hills were also members of the NAACP and community leaders, and Barney sat on a local board of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

They were an interracial couple at a time when it was particularly unusual in the U.S. Barney was African-American, and Betty was Caucasian
Caucasian race
The term Caucasian race has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia , Central Asia and South Asia...

.

The UFO encounter


According to a variety of reports given by the Hills, the alleged UFO sighting happened on September 19, 1961, at around 10:30 p.m. The Hills were driving back to Portsmouth from a vacation in Niagara Falls and Montreal, Quebec, Canada. There were only a few other cars on the road as they made their way home to New Hampshire's seacoast. Just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire
Lancaster, New Hampshire
Lancaster is a town in Coos County, New Hampshire, USA, on the Connecticut River named after Lancaster, England. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 3,507, the second largest in the county after Berlin. It is the county seat of Coos County and gateway to the Great North Woods Region...

, Betty claimed to have observed a bright point of light in the sky that moved from below the moon and the planet Jupiter, upward to the west of the moon. While Barney navigated U.S. Route 3
U.S. Route 3
U.S. Route 3 is a north–south United States highway that runs from its southern terminus in Cambridge, Massachusetts through New Hampshire to its terminus near Third Connecticut Lake at the Canadian border, where the road continues north as Quebec Route 257.In New Hampshire parts of US 3 are...

, Betty reasoned that she was observing a falling star, only it moved upward, like a plane or a satellite. Since it moved erratically and grew bigger and brighter, Betty urged Barney to stop the car for a closer look, as well as to walk their dog, Delsey. Barney stopped at a scenic picnic area just south of Twin Mountain
Twin Mountain, New Hampshire
Twin Mountain is a village within the town of Carroll in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It is named for two prominent summits which rise to the south of the village, North Twin Mountain and South Twin Mountain ....

. Worried about the presence of bears, Barney retrieved a pistol that he had concealed in the trunk of the car.

Betty, through binoculars, observed an "odd shaped" craft flashing multicolored lights travel across the face of the moon. Because her sister had confided to her about having a flying saucer sighting several years earlier, Betty thought it may be what she was observing. Through binoculars Barney observed what he reasoned was a commercial airliner traveling toward Vermont on its way to Montreal. However, he soon changed his mind, because without looking as if it had turned, the craft rapidly descended in his direction. This observation caused Barney to realize, "this object that was a plane was not a plane." He quickly returned to the car and drove toward Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch is a major mountain pass through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Dominated by Cannon Mountain, it lies principally within Franconia Notch State Park and is traversed by the Franconia Notch Parkway Franconia Notch (el. 1950 ft. / 590 m.) is a major mountain pass through...

, a narrow, mountainous stretch of the road.

The Hills claimed that they continued driving on the isolated road, moving very slowly through Franconia Notch in order to observe the object as it came even closer. At one point the object passed above a restaurant and signal tower on top of Cannon Mountain. It passed over the mountain and came out near the 48' profile of the Old Man of the Mountain
Old Man of the Mountain
The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the Great Stone Face or the Profile, was a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, USA that, when viewed from the north, appeared to be the jagged profile of a face. The rock formation was above...

 (New Hampshire's State Symbol). Betty testified that it was at least one and a half times the length of the granite profile and seemed to be rotating. The couple watched as the silent, lighted craft moved erratically and bounced back and forth in the night sky. As they drove along Route 3 through Franconia Notch, they stated that it seemed to be playing a game of cat and mouse with the couple.

Approximately one mile south of Indian Head
Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch is a major mountain pass through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Dominated by Cannon Mountain, it lies principally within Franconia Notch State Park and is traversed by the Franconia Notch Parkway Franconia Notch (el. 1950 ft. / 590 m.) is a major mountain pass through...

, they said, the object rapidly descended toward their vehicle causing Barney to stop directly in the middle of the highway. The huge, silent craft hovered approximately 80–100 feet above the Hills' 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
Chevrolet Bel Air
The Chevrolet Bel Air is a full-size automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1950–1975 model years. Hardtops in the Chevrolet Deluxe Styleline model range were designated with the Bel Air name from 1950–1952, but it was not a distinct series of its own until...

 and filled the entire field of the windshield. It reminded Barney of a huge pancake. Carrying his pistol in his pocket, he stepped away from the vehicle and moved closer to the object. Using the binoculars, Barney claimed to have seen about 8 to 11 humanoid figures who were peering out of the craft's windows, seeming to look at him. In unison, all but one figure moved to what appeared to be a panel on the rear wall of the hallway that encircled the front portion of the craft. The one remaining figure continued to look at Barney and communicated a message telling him to "stay where you are and keep looking." Red lights on what appeared to be bat-wing fins began to telescope out of the sides of the craft and a long structure descended from the bottom of the craft. The silent craft approached to what Barney estimated was within 50–80 feet overhead and 300 feet away from him. On October 21, 1961, Barney reported to NICAP Investigator Walter Webb, that the "beings were somehow not human".

Barney tore the binoculars away from his eyes and ran back to his car. In a near hysterical state, he told Betty, "They're going to capture us!" He saw the object again shift its location to directly above the vehicle. He drove away at high speed, telling Betty to look for the object. She rolled down the window and looked up, but saw only darkness above them, even though it was a bright, starry night.

Almost immediately the Hills heard a rhythmic series of beeping or buzzing sounds which they said seemed to bounce off the trunk of their vehicle. The car vibrated and a tingling sensation passed through the Hills' bodies. Betty touched the metal on the passenger door expecting to feel an electric shock, but felt only the vibration. The Hills said that at this point in time they experienced the onset of an altered state of consciousness that left their minds dulled. A second series of codelike beeping or buzzing sounds returned the couple to full consciousness. They found that they had traveled nearly 35 miles south but had only vague, spotty memories of this section of road. They recalled making a sudden unplanned turn, encountering a roadblock, and observing a fiery orb in the road.

Immediate aftermath


Arriving home at about dawn, the Hills assert that they had some odd sensations and impulses they could not readily explain: Betty insisted that their luggage be kept near the back door rather than in the main part of the house. Their watches would never run again. Barney noted that the leather strap for the binoculars was torn, though he could not recall it tearing. The toes of his best dress shoes were inexplicably scraped. Barney says he was compelled to examine his genitals in the bathroom, though he found nothing unusual. They took long showers to remove possible contamination and each drew a picture of what they had observed. Their drawings were strikingly similar.

Perplexed, the Hills say they tried to reconstruct the chronology of events as they witnessed the UFO and drove home. But immediately after they heard the buzzing sounds their memories became incomplete and fragmented. They vaguely recalled a luminous moon shape sitting on the road. Barney recalled saying "Oh no, not again". Betty thought Barney had taken a sharp left turn off Route 3
U.S. Route 3
U.S. Route 3 is a north–south United States highway that runs from its southern terminus in Cambridge, Massachusetts through New Hampshire to its terminus near Third Connecticut Lake at the Canadian border, where the road continues north as Quebec Route 257.In New Hampshire parts of US 3 are...

.

After sleeping for a few hours, Betty awoke and placed the shoes and clothing she had worn during the drive into her closet, observing that the dress was torn at the hem, zipper and lining. Later, when she retrieved the items from her closet, she noted a pinkish powder on her dress. She hung the dress on her clothesline and the pink powder blew away. But the dress was irreparably damaged. She threw it away, but then changed her mind, retrieving the dress and hanging it in her closet. Over the years, five laboratories have conducted chemical and forensic analyses on the dress.

There were shiny, concentric circles on their car's trunk that had not been there the previous day. Betty and Barney experimented with a compass, noting that when they moved it close to the spots, the needle would whirl rapidly. But when they moved it a few inches away from the shiny spots, it would drop down.

Initial report to the U.S. Air Force and NICAP


On September 21, Betty telephoned Pease Air Force Base
Pease Air National Guard Base
Pease Air National Guard Base is a New Hampshire Air National Guard base located at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease. Formerly, the base was open as Pease Air Force Base until it was closed in 1991. Before it was closed, it was under the control of the United States Air Force's Strategic...

 to report their UFO encounter, though for fear of being labeled eccentric, she withheld some of the details. On September 22, Major Paul W. Henderson telephoned the Hills for a more detailed interview. Henderson's report, dated September 26, determined that the Hills had probably misidentified the planet Jupiter. (This was later changed to "optical condition", "inversion" and "insufficient data.") (Report 100-1-61, Air Intelligence Information Record) His report was forwarded to Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

, the U.S. Air Force's UFO research project.

Within days of the encounter, Betty borrowed a UFO book from a local library. It had been written by retired Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe
Donald Keyhoe
Donald Edward Keyhoe was an American Marine Corps naval aviator, writer of many aviation articles and stories in a variety of leading publications, and manager of the promotional tours of aviation pioneers, especially of Charles Lindbergh.In the 1950s he became well-known as an UFO researcher,...

, who was also the head of NICAP
National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena
The National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena was a civilian unidentified flying object research group active in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s.-Overview:...

, a civilian UFO research group. On September 26, Betty wrote to Keyhoe. She related the full story, including the details about the humanoid figures that Barney had observed through binoculars. Betty wrote that she and Barney were considering hypnosis to help recall what had happened. Her letter was eventually passed on to Walter N. Webb, a Boston astronomer and NICAP member.

Webb met with the Hills on October 21, 1961. In a six-hour interview, the Hills related all they could remember of the UFO encounter. Barney asserted that he had developed a sort of "mental block" and that he suspected there were some portions of the event that he did not wish to remember. He described in detail all that he could remember about the craft and the appearance of the "somehow not human" figures aboard the craft. Webb stated that "they were telling the truth and the incident probably occurred exactly as reported except for some minor uncertainties and technicalities that must be tolerated in any such observations where human judgment is involved (i.e. exact time and length of visibility, apparent sizes of object and occupants, distance and height of object, etc)."

Betty's dreams


Ten days after the UFO encounter, Betty began having a series of vivid dreams. They continued for five successive nights. Never in her memory had she recalled dreams in such detail and intensity. But they stopped abruptly after five nights and never returned again. They occupied her thoughts during the day. When she finally did mention them to Barney, he was sympathetic, but not too concerned, and the matter was dropped. Betty did not mention them to Barney again.

In November 1961, Betty began writing down the details of her nightmarish dreams. In one dream, she and Barney encountered a roadblock and men who surrounded their car. She lost consciousness but struggled to regain it. She then realized that she was being forced by two small men to walk in a forest in the nighttime, and of seeing Barney walking behind her, though when she called to him, he seemed to be in a trance or sleepwalking. The men stood about five feet to five feet four inches tall, and wore matching uniforms, with caps similar to those worn by military cadets. They appeared nearly human with black hair, long noses, lips and ears, but had a grayish pallor and bluish lips.

In the dreams, Betty, Barney, and the men walked up a ramp into a disc-shaped craft of metallic appearance. Once inside, Barney and Betty were separated. She protested, and was told by a man she called "the leader" that if she and Barney were examined together, it would take much longer to conduct the exams. She and Barney were then taken to separate rooms.

Betty then dreamt that a new man, similar to the others, entered to conduct her exam with the leader. Betty called this new man "the examiner" and said he had a pleasant, calm manner. Though the leader and the examiner spoke to her in English, the examiner's command of the language seemed imperfect and she had difficulty understanding him.

The examiner told Betty that he would conduct a few tests to note the differences between humans and the craft's occupants. He seated her on a chair, and a bright light was shone on her. The man cut off a lock of Betty's hair. He examined her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, throat and hands. He saved trimmings from her fingernails. After examining her legs and feet, the man then used a dull knife, similar to a letter opener to scrape some of her skin onto what resembled cellophane
Cellophane
Cellophane is a thin, transparent sheet made of regenerated cellulose. Its low permeability to air, oils, greases, bacteria and water makes it useful for food packaging...

. He then tested her nervous system and he thrust the needle into her navel, which caused Betty agonizing pain. But the leader waved his hand in front of her eyes and the pain vanished.

The examiner left the room and Betty engaged in conversation with the "leader". She picked up a book with rows of strange symbols that the "leader" said she could take home with her. She also asked where he was from, and he pulled down an instructional map dotted with stars.

In Betty's dream account, the men began escorting the Hills from the ship when a disagreement broke out. The leader then informed Betty that she couldn't keep the book, stating that they had decided that the other men did not want her to even remember the encounter. Betty insisted that no matter what they did to her memory, she would one day recall the events.

She and Barney were taken to their car, where the leader suggested that they wait to watch the craft's departure. They did so, then resumed their drive.

Missing time


On November 25, 1961, the Hills were again interviewed at length by NICAP members, this time C.D. Jackson and Robert E. Hohman.

Having read Webb's initial report, Jackson and Hohman had many questions for the Hills. One of their main questions was about the length of the trip. Neither Webb nor the Hills had noted that, though the drive should have taken about four hours, they did not arrive at home until seven hours after their departure. When Hohman and Jackson noted this discrepancy to the Hills, the couple had no explanation (a frequently reported circumstance in alleged alien abduction cases that some have called "missing time
Missing time
Missing time is a proposed phenomenon reported by some people in connection with close encounters with UFOs and abduction phenomena. The term missing time refers to a gap in conscious memory relating to a specific period in time. The gap can last from several minutes to several days in length...

"). As Clark writes, despite "all their efforts the Hills could recall almost nothing of the 35 miles between Indian Head
Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch is a major mountain pass through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Dominated by Cannon Mountain, it lies principally within Franconia Notch State Park and is traversed by the Franconia Notch Parkway Franconia Notch (el. 1950 ft. / 590 m.) is a major mountain pass through...

 and Ashland
Ashland, New Hampshire
Ashland is a town in Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 2,076 at the 2010 census. Located near the geographical center of the state, Ashland is home to Scribner-Fellows State Forest....

. Although Betty's recall was somewhat fuller than Barney's, both were able to recall an image of a fiery orb sitting on the ground. Betty and Barney reasoned that it must have been the moon, but Hohman and Jackson informed them that the moon had set earlier in the evening.

The subject of hypnosis
Hypnosis
Hypnosis is "a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination."It is a mental state or imaginative role-enactment . It is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary...

 came up. Perhaps hypnosis could unlock the missing memories. Barney was apprehensive about hypnosis, but thought it might help Betty put to rest what Barney described as the 'nonsense' about her dreams."

By February 1962, the Hills were making frequent weekend drives to the White Mountains
White Mountains (New Hampshire)
The White Mountains are a mountain range covering about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine in the United States. Part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England...

, hoping that revisiting the site might spark more memories. They were unsuccessful in trying to locate the site where they observed a fiery orb sitting in the road. However, they were able to eliminate several possible routes. (They found the "capture" site on Labor Day
Labor Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.-History:...

 weekend in 1965.)

Private disclosure


On November 23, 1962, the Hills attended a meeting at the parsonage
Rectory
A rectory is the residence, or former residence, of a rector, most often a Christian cleric, but in some cases an academic rector or other person with that title...

 of their church where the invited guest speaker was Captain Ben H. Swett of the U.S. Air Force, who had recently published a book of his poetry. After he read selections of his poetry, the pastor asked him to discuss his personal interest in hypnosis. After the meeting broke up, the Hills approached Captain Swett privately and told him what they could remember of their strange encounter. He was particularly interested in the "missing time" of the Hills' account. The Hills asked Swett if he would hypnotize them to recover their memories, but Swett said he was not qualified to do that and cautioned them against going to an amateur hypnotist, such as himself.

First public disclosure


On March 3, 1963, the Hills first publicly discussed the UFO encounter with a group at their church.

On September 7, 1963, Captain Swett gave a formal lecture on hypnosis to a meeting at the Unitarian
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 Church. After the lecture, the Hills told him that Barney was going to a psychiatrist, Dr. Stephens, whom he liked and trusted. Captain Swett suggested that Barney ask Dr. Stephens about the use of hypnosis in his case.

When Barney next met with Dr. Stephens, he asked about hypnosis. Stephens referred the Hills to Dr. Benjamin Simon of Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

.

On November 3, 1963, the Hills spoke before an amateur UFO study group, the Two State UFO Study Group, in Quincy Center, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

.

The Hills first met Dr. Simon on December 14, 1963. Early in their discussions, Simon determined that the UFO encounter was causing Barney far more worry and anxiety than he was willing to admit. Though Simon dismissed the popular extraterrestrial hypothesis
Extraterrestrial hypothesis
The extraterrestrial hypothesis is the hypothesis that some unidentified flying objects are best explained as being extraterrestrial life or non-human aliens from other planets occupying physical spacecraft visiting Earth.-Etymology:...

 as impossible, it seemed obvious to him that the Hills genuinely thought they had witnessed a UFO with human-like occupants. Simon hoped to uncover more about the experience through hypnosis.

Dr. Simon's hypnosis sessions


Simon began hypnotizing the Hills on January 4, 1964. He hypnotized Betty and Barney several times each, and the sessions lasted until June 6, 1964. Simon conducted the sessions on Barney and Betty separately, so they could not overhear one another's recollections. At the end of each session he reinstated amnesia
Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost. The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into categories. Memory appears to be stored in several parts of the limbic system of the brain, and any condition that interferes with the function of this system can cause amnesia...

.

Barney's sessions


Simon hypnotized Barney first. His recall of witnessing non-human figures was quite emotional, punctuated with expressions of fear, emotional outbursts and incredulity. Barney said that, due to his fear, he kept his eyes closed for much of the abduction and physical examination. Based on these early responses, Simon told Barney that he would not remember the hypnosis sessions until he was certain he could remember them without being further traumatized.

Under hypnosis, (as was consistent with his conscious recall), Barney reported that the binocular strap had broken when he ran from the UFO back to his car. He recalled driving the car away from the UFO, but that afterwards he felt irresistibly compelled to pull off the road, and drive into the woods. He eventually sighted six men standing in the dirt road. The car stalled and three of the men approached the car. They told Barney to not fear them. He was still anxious, however, and he reported that the leader told Barney to close his eyes. While hypnotized, Barney said, "I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes."

Barney described the beings as generally similar to Betty's hypnotic, not dream recollection. The beings often stared into his eyes, said Barney, with a terrifying, mesmerizing effect. Under hypnosis, Barney said things like, "Oh, those eyes. They're there in my brain" (from his first hypnosis session) and I was told to close my eyes because I saw two eyes coming close to mine, and I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes" (from his second hypnosis session) and "All I see are these eyes... I'm not even afraid that they're not connected to a body. They're just there. They're just up close to me, pressing against my eyes."

Barney related that he and Betty were taken onto the disc-shaped craft, where they were separated. He was escorted to a room by three of the men and told to lie on a small rectangular exam table. Unlike Betty, Barney's narrative of the exam was fragmented, and he continued to keep his eyes closed for most of the exam. A cup-like device was placed over his genitals. He did not experience an orgasm
Orgasm
Orgasm is the peak of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure...

 though Barney thought that a sperm
Semen
Semen is an organic fluid, also known as seminal fluid, that may contain spermatozoa. It is secreted by the gonads and other sexual organs of male or hermaphroditic animals and can fertilize female ova...

 sample had been taken. The men scraped his skin, and peered in his ears and mouth. A tube or cylinder was inserted in his anus
Anus
The anus is an opening at the opposite end of an animal's digestive tract from the mouth. Its function is to control the expulsion of feces, unwanted semi-solid matter produced during digestion, which, depending on the type of animal, may be one or more of: matter which the animal cannot digest,...

. Someone felt his spine, and seemed to be counting his vertebrae.

While Betty reported extended conversations with the beings in English, Barney said that he heard them speaking in a mumbling language he did not understand. Betty also mentioned this detail. The few times they communicated with him, Barney said it seemed to be "thought transference"; at that time, he was unfamiliar with the word "telepathy
Telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

". Both Betty and Barney stated that they hadn't observed the beings' mouths moving when they communicated in English with them.

He recalled being escorted from the ship, and taken to his car, which was now near the road rather than in the woods. In a daze, he watched the ship leave. Barney remembered a light appearing on the road, and he said, "Oh no, not again." He recalled Betty's speculation that the light might have been the moon, though the moon had in fact set several hours earlier. He also stated that he attempted to produce the code-like buzzing sounds which seemed to strike the car's trunk a second time by driving from side to side and stopping and starting the vehicle. His attempt was unsuccessful.

Betty's sessions


Under hypnosis, Betty's account was very similar to the events of her five dreams about the UFO abduction, but there were also notable differences. Under hypnosis, her capture and release were different. The technology on the craft was different. The short men had a significantly different physical appearance than the ones in her dreams. The sequential order of the abduction event was also different than in Betty's dream account. She filled in many details that were not in her dreams and contradicted some of her dream content. It is interesting that Barney's and Betty's memories in hypnotic regression were consistent but contradicted some of the information in Betty's dreams.

Betty exhibited considerable emotional distress during her capture and examination. Dr. Simon ended one session early because tears were flowing down her cheeks and she was in considerable agony.

Dr. Simon gave Betty the post hypnotic suggestion that she could sketch a copy of the "star map" that she later described as a three dimensional projection similar to a hologram
Holography
Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that when an imaging system is placed in the reconstructed beam, an image of the object will be seen even when the object is no longer present...

. She hesitated, thinking she would be unable to accurately depict the three-dimensional quality of the map she says she saw on the ship. Eventually, however, she did what Simon suggested. Although she said the map had many stars, she drew only those that stood out in her memory. Her map consisted of twelve prominent stars connected by lines and three lesser ones that formed a distinctive triangle. (see below) She said she was told the stars connected by solid lines formed "trade routes", whereas dashed lines were to less-traveled stars.

Dr. Simon's conclusions


After extensive hypnosis sessions, Dr. Simon concluded that Barney's recall of the UFO encounter was a fantasy inspired by Betty's dreams. Though Simon admitted this hypothesis did not explain every aspect of the experience, he thought it was the most plausible and consistent explanation. Barney rejected this idea, noting that while their memories were in some regards interlocking, there were also portions of both their narratives that were unique to each. Barney was now ready to accept that they had been abducted by the occupants of a UFO, though he never embraced it as fully as Betty did.

Though the Hills and Simon disagreed about the nature of the case, they all concurred that the hypnosis sessions were effective: the Hills were no longer tormented by anxiety about the UFO encounter.

Afterwards, Simon wrote an article about the Hills for the journal Psychiatric Opinion, explaining his conclusions that the case was a singular psychological aberration.

Publicity after the hypnosis sessions


The Hills went back to their regular lives. They were willing to discuss the UFO encounter with friends, family and the occasional UFO researcher, but the Hills apparently made no effort to seek publicity.

But on October 25, 1965, a newspaper story changed everything: A front page story on the Boston Traveler asked "UFO Chiller: Did THEY Seize Couple?" Reporter John H. Lutrell of the Traveler had allegedly been given an audio tape recording of the lecture the Hills had made in Quincy Center in late 1963. Lutrell learned that the Hills had undergone hypnosis with Dr. Simon; he also obtained notes from confidential interviews the Hills had given to UFO investigators. On October 26, the UPI picked up Lutrell's story, and the Hills earned international
International
----International mostly means something that involves more than one country. The term international as a word means involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries...

 attention.

In 1966, writer John G. Fuller
John G. Fuller
John Grant Fuller, Jr. was a New England-based American author of several non-fiction books and newspaper articles, mainly focusing on the theme of extra-terrestrials and the supernatural. For many years he wrote a regular column for the Saturday Review magazine, called "Trade Winds"...

 secured the cooperation of the Hills and Dr. Simon, and wrote the book The Interrupted Journey about the case. The book included a copy of Betty's sketch of the "star map". The book was a quick success, and went through several printings.

Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage on February 25, 1969, and Betty Hill died of cancer on October 17, 2004.

Analyzing the star map


In 1968, Marjorie Fish of Oak Harbor, Ohio
Oak Harbor, Ohio
Oak Harbor is a village in Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. Oak Harbor is 30 miles east of Toledo. The population was 2,841 at the 2000 census...

 read Fuller's Interrupted Journey. She was an elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

 teacher and amateur astronomer. Intrigued by the "star map", Fish wondered if it might be "deciphered" to determine which star system
Star system
A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large number of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a star cluster or galaxy, although, broadly speaking, they are also star systems.-Binary star systems:A stellar...

 the UFO came from. Assuming that one of the fifteen stars on the map must represent the Earth's Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

, Fish constructed a three-dimensional model of nearby Sun-like stars using thread and beads, basing stellar distances on those published in the 1969 Gliese Star Catalogue
Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars
The Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars is a frequently referenced, modern star catalogue of stars located within 25 parsecs of the Earth.-First edition and supplements:...

. Studying thousands of vantage points over several years, the only one that seemed to match the Hill map was from the viewpoint of the double star
Double star
In observational astronomy, a double star is a pair of stars that appear close to each other in the sky as seen from Earth when viewed through an optical telescope. This can happen either because the pair forms a binary star, i.e...

 system of Zeta Reticuli
Zeta Reticuli
Zeta Reticuli is a binary star system located about away from Earth. It is located in the constellation Reticulum, and is visible to the unaided eye in very dark skies...

. Therefore she concluded that the UFO might have come from a planet orbiting Zeta Reticuli. As a result of Fish's hypothesis
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

, some have dubbed the Hills' account The Zeta Reticuli Incident.

Distance information needed to match three stars, forming the distinctive triangle Hill said she remembered, was not generally available until the 1969 Gliese Catalogue came out.

Fish sent her analysis to Webb. Agreeing with her conclusions, Webb sent the map to Terence Dickinson
Terence Dickinson
Terence Dickinson, CM is a leading amateur astronomer and science writer who lives near the rural town of Yarker, Ontario, Canada. He is the editor of SkyNews magazine and an astronomy commentator for Discovery Channel Canada. He has written fourteen books, which are widely regarded as some of...

, editor
Editing
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete...

 of the popular magazine Astronomy
Astronomy (magazine)
Astronomy is a monthly American magazine about astronomy. Targeting amateur astronomers for its readers, it contains columns on sky viewing, reader-submitted astrophotographs, and articles on astronomy and astrophysics that are readable by nonscientists....

. Dickinson did not endorse Fish and Webb's conclusions, but for the first time in the journal's history, Astronomy invited comments and debate on a UFO report, starting with an opening article in the December 1974 issue. For about a year afterward, the opinions page of Astronomy carried arguments for and against Fish's star map. Notable was an argument made by Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 and Steven Soter
Steven Soter
Dr. Steven Soter, PhD, is an astrophysicist currently holding the positions of scientist-in-residence for New York University's Environmental Studies Program and of Research Associate for the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History...

, arguing that the seeming "star map" was little more than a random alignment of chance points. In contrast, those more favorable to the map, such as Dr. David Saunders, a statistician who had been on the Condon UFO study
Condon Committee
The Condon Committee was the informal name of the University of Colorado UFO Project, a group funded by the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Colorado to study unidentified flying objects under the direction of physicist Edward Condon...

, argued that unusual alignment of key Sun-like stars in a plane centered around Zeta Reticuli (first described by Fish) was statistically improbable to have happened by chance from a random group of stars in our immediate neighborhood.

Skeptic Robert Sheaffer
Robert Sheaffer
Robert Sheaffer , in Chicago, IL is a freelance writer and a prominent investigator of unidentified flying objects, Christianity, academic feminism, and many other subjects...

, in an accompanying article said that a map devised by Charles W. Atterberg, about the same time as Fish, was an even better match to Hill's map and made more sense. The base stars, Epsilon Indi
Epsilon Indi
Epsilon Indi is a K-type main-sequence star approximately 12 light-years away in the constellation of Indus. Two brown dwarfs, found in 2003, orbit the star.- Observation :...

 and Epsilon Eridani
Epsilon Eridani
Epsilon Eridani is a star in the southern constellation Eridanus, along a declination 9.46° south of the celestial equator. This allows the star to be viewed from most of the Earth's surface. At a distance of 10.5 light years , it has an apparent magnitude of 3.73...

, plus the others were also closer to the Sun than the Hill map. Fish counterargued that the base stars in the Atterberg map were considered much less likely to harbor life than Zeta Reticuli and the map lacked a consistent grouping of Sun-like stars along the lined routes.

In 1993, two German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 crop circle
Crop circle
A crop circle is a sizable pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rapeseed. Crop circles are also referred to as crop formations, because they are not always circular in shape. While the exact date crop circles began to appear is unknown, the documented...

 enthusiasts, Joachim Koch and Hans-Jürgen Kyborg, suggested that the map depicted planets in the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

, not nearby stars. The objects in the map, they said, closely match the positions of the Sun, the six inner planets and several asteroids around the time of the incident. This would parallel other abduction accounts where witnesses claim to be shown such depictions, though admittedly often elaborate and unmistakably our own solar system.

Interrupted Journey


The 1966 publication
Publication
To publish is to make content available to the public. While specific use of the term may vary among countries, it is usually applied to text, images, or other audio-visual content on any medium, including paper or electronic publishing forms such as websites, e-books, Compact Discs and MP3s...

 of Interrupted Journey, by John G. Fuller, details much of the Hills' claims. Excerpts of the book were published in Look
Look (American magazine)
Look was a bi-weekly, general-interest magazine published in Des Moines, Iowa from 1937 to 1971, with more of an emphasis on photographs than articles...

magazine, and Interrupted Journey went on to sell many copies and greatly publicize the Hills' account. Betty's niece Kathleen Marden explored Fuller's themes along with scientist Stanton T. Friedman
Stanton T. Friedman
Stanton Terry Friedman is a professional Ufologist, currently residing in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He is the original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident. He studied physics at the University of Chicago and worked as a nuclear physicist on research and development projects for...

 in her book the "Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience." Mrs. Marden knew Betty well so had spoken with her at great length about the encounter.

Later, Betty claimed to have seen UFOs a number of times after the initial abduction, and she "became a celebrity in the UFO community."

Skeptical arguments

  • Psychiatrists reportedly later suggested that the supposed abduction was a hallucination
    Hallucination
    A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

     brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple
    Interracial marriage
    Interracial marriage occurs when two people of differing racial groups marry. This is a form of exogamy and can be seen in the broader context of miscegenation .-Legality of interracial marriage:In the Western world certain jurisdictions have had regulations...

     in early 1960s
    1960s
    The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe...

     America. Betty discounted this suggestion, noting her relationship with Barney was happy, and their interracial marriage caused no notable problems with their friends or family. As noted in The Interrupted Journey, Dr. Simon thought that the Hills marital status had nothing to do with the UFO encounter.
  • Paranormal investigator Brian Dunning
    Brian Dunning (skeptic)
    Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena, a weekly audio podcast dedicated "to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with evidence-based scientific reality." He is also the...

     reports that the hypnosis sessions occurred over two years after the reported abductions, plenty of time for the couple to discuss their encounter. In a 2008 article, Dunning calls their story "merely an inventive tale from the mind of a lifelong UFO fanatic... [and] is unsupported by any useful evidence, and is perfectly consistent with the purely natural explanation." Dunning's statements, however, are not supported by factual information. Betty was not a lifelong UFO enthusiast. According to Barney's 1961 letter to Major Donald Keyhoe and early investigative reports, she had not read even one book about UFOs prior to her close encounter on September 19, 1961; nor had he.

In his 1990 article Entirely Unpredisposed, Martin Kottmeyer suggested that Barney's memories revealed under hypnosis might have been influenced by an episode of the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 television show
  • The Outer Limits
    The Outer Limits (1963 TV series)
    The Outer Limits is an American television series that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. The series is similar in style to the earlier The Twilight Zone, but with a greater emphasis on science fiction, rather than fantasy stories...

    titled "The Bellero Shield", which was broadcast about two weeks before Barney's first hypnotic session. The episode featured an extraterrestrial with large eyes who says, "In all the universes, in all the unities beyond the universes, all who have eyes have eyes that speak." The report from the regression featured a scenario that was in some respects similar to the television show. In part, Kottmeyer wrote:

"Wraparound eyes are an extreme rarity in science fiction films. I know of only one instance. They appeared on the alien of an episode of an old TV series The Outer Limits
The Outer Limits (1963 TV series)
The Outer Limits is an American television series that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. The series is similar in style to the earlier The Twilight Zone, but with a greater emphasis on science fiction, rather than fantasy stories...

entitled "The Bellero Shield". A person familiar with Barney's sketch in "The Interrupted Journey" and the sketch done in collaboration with the artist David Baker will find a "frisson" of "déjà vu
Déjà vu
Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the prior encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined...

" creeping up his spine when seeing this episode. The resemblance is much abetted by an absence of ears, hair, and nose on both aliens. Could it be by chance? Consider this: Barney first described and drew the wraparound eyes during the hypnosis session dated 22 February 1964. "The Bellero Shield" was first broadcast on "10 February 1964. Only twelve days separate the two instances. If the identification is admitted, the commonness of wraparound eyes in the abduction literature falls to cultural forces."


When a different researcher asked Betty about The Outer Limits, she insisted she had "never heard of it". Kottmeyer also pointed out that some motifs in the Hills' account were present in the 1953 film, Invaders from Mars
Invaders from Mars (1953 film)
Invaders From Mars is a science fiction film directed by William Cameron Menzies, taken from a scenario by Richard Blake, and based on a story treatment by John Tucker Battle who was inspired by a dream recounted by his wife. It was produced independently by Edward L. Alperson Jr. and starred...

. A careful analysis of Barney's description of the non-human entities that he observed reveals significant differences between the "Bifrost Man" and Barney's descriptive details. One must also take into a account Barney's conscious recall of the of the entities he observed on the hovering craft. They were dressed in black, shiny uniforms and were "somehow not human".
  • Jim Macdonald
    James D. Macdonald
    James D. Macdonald is an American author and critic who lives in New Hampshire with his wife and frequent collaborator, Dr. Debra Doyle. He works in several genres, concentrating on fantasy, but also writing science fiction, and mystery and media tie-ins.-Biography:Macdonald was born in 1954, and...

    , a resident of the area in which the Hills claimed to have been abducted, has produced a detailed analysis of their journey which concludes that the episode was in fact provoked by their misperceiving an aircraft warning beacon on Cannon Mountain
    Cannon Mountain (New Hampshire)
    Cannon Mountain is a peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Known for both its technical rock and ice climbing and its skiing , the mountain was home to the Old Man of the Mountain until the formation collapsed on May 3, 2003...

     as a UFO. Macdonald notes that from the road the Hills took, the beacon appears and disappears at exactly the same time the Hills describe the UFO as appearing and disappearing. The remainder of the experience is ascribed to stress, sleep deprivation
    Sleep deprivation
    Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function. Few studies have compared the...

    , and false memories 'recovered' under hypnosis. UFO expert Robert Sheaffer
    Robert Sheaffer
    Robert Sheaffer , in Chicago, IL is a freelance writer and a prominent investigator of unidentified flying objects, Christianity, academic feminism, and many other subjects...

     writes after reading Macdonald's recreation that the Hills are the "poster children" for not driving when sleep deprived. This explanation ignores the fact that the Hills' observed the craft hovering next to the Old Man of the Mountain profile, south of Cannon Mountain. Also, the close encounter occurred eight miles south of Cannon Mountain, and the abduction occurred 18 miles south of Cannon Mountain.

  • Sheaffer reports that Betty Hill as late as 1977 would still go on UFO vigils three times a week. During one evening she was joined by UFO enthusiast, John Oswald, who when asked about Mrs. Hill's continuing UFO observations, Oswald stated, she is not really seeing UFO's but she is calling them that. On the night we went out together "Mrs. Hill was unable to 'distinguish between a landed UFO and a streetlight'". In a later interview, Sheaffer recounts that Betty Hill writes "'UFO's are a new science... and our science cannot explain them'".

Fictional portrayal

  • The couple was portrayed by James Earl Jones
    James Earl Jones
    James Earl Jones is an American actor. He is well-known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership...

     and Estelle Parsons
    Estelle Parsons
    Estelle Margaret Parsons is an American theatre, film and television actress and occasional theatrical director.After studying law, Parsons became a singer before deciding to pursue a career in acting. She worked for the television program Today and made her stage debut in 1961...

     in the 1975 television movie
    Television movie
    A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

     adapted by S Lee Pogostin, The UFO Incident, and by Basil Wallace and Lee Garlington
    Lee Garlington
    Ann Leslie "Lee" Garlington is an American actress.Garlington was born in Teaneck, New Jersey. She has guest starred in a number of notable television series, including The West Wing, 7th Heaven, 8 Simple Rules, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Judging Amy, L.A...

     in the 1996 television series Dark Skies
    Dark Skies
    Dark Skies is an American UFO conspiracy theory-based sci-fi television series that aired from the 1996 to 1997 season for 18 episodes, plus a two-hour pilot episode. The success of The X-Files on Fox proved there was an audience for science fiction shows, resulting in NBC commissioning this...

    .
  • The Hills were briefly pictured and discussed in the miniseries Taken.
  • The book The Chronologies of Babylon 5
    Babylon 5
    Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

    , which describes the timeline of fictional Babylon 5 universe, states that the couple was abducted by a race called The Strieb.
  • The encounter was portrayed in a segment on the 12th episode of Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

    's miniseries Cosmos
    Cosmos: A Personal Voyage
    Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, with Sagan as presenter. It was executive-produced by Adrian Malone, produced by David Kennard, Geoffrey Haines-Stiles and Gregory Andorfer, and directed by the producers, David...

    , "Encyclopedia Galactica".
  • Details of the Hill's case were used in the X-Files episode, Jose Chung's From Outer Space
    Jose Chung's From Outer Space
    "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" is the 20th episode of the third season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States on April 12, 1996, on FOX. It was written by Darin Morgan and directed by Rob Bowman...


See also

  • List of UFO sightings
  • Serpo
  • Zeta Reticuli in fiction

External links