The Betty and Barney Hill abduction is widely considered to be one of the most researched, documented and believable accounts of UFO phenomena in modern history. Many leading ufologists claim that the story of Betty and Barney Hill's close encounter of the third kind is second in popularity and only to the Roswell incident, but equally as compelling in terms of validating the existence of extraterrestrial life. Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the Hills' story is the fact that reports of alien abductions–especially reports that were highly detailed–were extremely rare for that day and time.
The Hills' story begins in September of 1961. Barney, a 39-year-old postal worker and Betty, a 41-year-old social worker, had decided to take a vacation due to the fact that Barney had recently developed a stress-related ulcer. Since they lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, they decided to venture out a little and head up to Canada to enjoy a couple of popular tourist destinations, including Montreal and Niagara Falls. On September 19th, 1961 around 10:30 p.m., the Hills were driving back home from their vacation, and as they were making their way down U.S. Route 3, Betty noticed a bright light that seemed to move from below the moon to the west side of the moon, in a somewhat erratic pattern. The light began to grow bigger and bigger, prompting Betty to urge Barney to stop the car and observe the strange object through their binoculars. Barney was hesitant at first, but the need to stop and walk their dog Delsey was enough to convince him to pull over. They stopped at a picnic area near Twin Mountain to take a closer look. After observing the craft through binoculars, Barney reasoned that they were viewing a commercial airliner traveling towards Montreal. His theory quickly dissipated as the craft began to descend in their direction, gaining momentum as it lowered. The Hills hurriedly got back into the car and drove further down U.S. Route 3, through an isolated area known as Franconia Notch.
The Hills began to drive very slowly through Franconia Notch in order to get a better look at the object and observe its behavior. They would later recount that the craft seemed to be playing a game of "cat and mouse" with them. When the Hills reached an area known as Indian Head, the object sped up considerably and descended so low to the ground that Barney was forced to stop their vehicle. He then strongly urged Betty to stay in the car, grabbed his pistol along with his binoculars, and got out of the car in order to take a closer look at the hovering craft. While cautiously approaching the object, he claimed to have seen a handful of humanoid beings through a large window in the ship. Upon seeing the occupants of the ship, Barney panicked and ran back to the car, fearing for their safety. Barney quickly sped off, asking his wife to keep tabs on the craft and track its position.
Only a few moments later, they both heard a series of intermittent buzzing or beeping sounds, and their car began to vibrate. The Hills also stated that they felt a strange tingling sensation throughout their bodies, after which they both claimed to have entered into some type of altered or trancelike state of consciousness. They did not fully return to consciousness until after they heard a second series of distinctive buzzing or beeping sounds. Once they had fully regained their senses, they discovered that they had traveled roughly 35 miles further down the road than when they last remembered, and had only a faint or spotty recollection of any events that took place during that span of time.
After arriving back home at dawn, both Barney and Betty experienced several after-effects of the incident that gave them "clues" that something bigger had transpired than what they remembered. Their watches stopped running, and never worked properly again. The trunk of their car was now marked with a shiny pattern of concentric circles. Barney's shoes were now scuffed without explanation, and the leather strap to his binoculars was mysteriously torn. Betty's dress was also torn in several places, and featured some type of strange pinkish powder-like substance. Mystified by these traces of the incident, Betty contacted Pease Air Force Base two days later to report what she believed was a UFO encounter. After an interview was conducted by Major Paul W. Henderson, the determination was made that the Hills had misidentified an appearance of planet Jupiter, as it was prominent in the night sky at that time of year. Henderson's report eventually became a part of the Air Force's now-famous Project Blue Book, a compendium of UFO-related phenomena.
Roughly ten days after the peculiar UFO incident, Betty began having extremely vivid dreams, in which she recalled certain details of the incident that had escaped her conscious memory up until that point. In her dreams, she remembered being taken aboard the spacecraft along with her husband, being escorted by two small humanoid beings with grey skin and large wraparound eyes. The strange beings also wore black uniforms with black caps, similar in appearance to military fatigues. In Betty's dreams, she and Barney were taken up a ramp into the metallic spacecraft, and were escorted into separate rooms where each of them underwent a series of physical examinations. One of the alien beings examined Betty's eyes, mouth, ears, throat, hands, and teeth. He also trimmed and saved some of her fingernails, as well as a lock of her hair. A sample of Betty's skin was also taken using a knife. At one point, the alien examiner thrust a long needle into Betty's abdomen, causing her intense pain, but according to her account, the alien simply waved his hand in front of her face, and the pain instantly ceased.
After leaving the examination room, Betty spoke with one of the beings whom she regarded to be the "leader". She had noticed a book aboard the craft that seemed to have been written in some type of symbol-based language, as it featured rows of indecipherable glyphs. She asked the leader if she could keep the book, and at first he said yes, but then after some type of disagreement with the others aboard the ship, he decided against it. Betty also asked where the beings were from, to which the leader showed her a three-dimensional (some speculate that it was holographic) map dotted with a collection of stars. Under posthypnotic suggestion, Betty would later draw a recreation of this star map, depicting a binary star system that was not "officially" discovered by astronomers until roughly 8 years later. The accuracy of Hill's star map remains a hotly debated topic even to this day.
In November of 1963 (roughly two years after the incident), the Hills gave a lecture regarding their encounter to an amateur group of ufologists in Quincy Center, Massachusetts. Not too long afterwards, they underwent a series of hypnosis sessions conducted by Dr. Benjamin Simon. The sessions were conducted separately so that Betty and Barney could not overhear each others' responses. Both Betty and Barney remember interacting with extraterrestrial beings, and both recounted undergoing physical examinations that were sometimes strenuous and invasive. Betty's and Barney's recollections under hypnotic regression were strikingly similar, but Betty's account under hypnosis seemed to contradict some of the details of her dreams. Simon later concluded that their experience could be attributed to a "psychological aberration".
While Dr. Simon's explanation of the Hills' encounter seemed to quell the issue at the time, Barney and Betty both maintained that what they had experienced was absolutely real. The incident eventually gained international attention after a news reporter named John H. Luttrell obtained an audio tape of a lecture the Hills had given to a group of amateur ufologists at the Quincy Center in Massachusetts. While the Hills never actively sought publicity, they were thrust into the international spotlight by way of a front-page story authored by Luttrell in the Boston Traveler. The Hills' encounter eventually inspired both a book (The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller) and a 1975 television movie (The UFO Incident, which starred James Earl Jones as Barney and Estelle Parsons as Betty). Sadly, Barney died of a brain hemorrhage in 1969 at age 46. Betty lived to be 85, passing away from cancer in 2004.
To this day, the account of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction stands as a seminal incident in the world of UFO research. While there are strong opinions on both sides of the argument, the case of the Hills' abduction remains one of the most popular and thought-provoking UFO encounters in existence.