20 Chilling Facts You Never Knew About The Unsettling Alien Abduction Of Barney And Betty Hill
By Sarah Norman | May 11, 2023
Claims of alien abduction and run-ins with UFOs were ubiquitous in the back half of the 20th century, but no abduction story is quite as fascinating as that of Barney and Betty Hill. In 1961, this couple claimed that they were abducted by "humanoids" in rural New Hampshire, something made even more complicated by the fact that they were a mixed race couple.
What became known as the "Hill Abduction" and the "Zeta Reticuli Incident" has everything - aliens, spaceships, lost time, and even hypnosis. What happened when the Hills came face to face with extraterrestrials in 1961? We'll try to get as close to the truth as we can.
The Hills were a fairly normal couple
Prior to their experience with a UFO the Hills were mostly normal couple. In 1961, their marriage wasn't legal. Barney was a Black man and Betty was a white woman, a union that wasn't allowed in the United States as a whole until the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the "anti-miscegenation" laws in 1967.
Barney worked at the United States Postal Service, and Betty was a social worker. They were both members of the NAACP, and were major parts of their local community who sat on a local board of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The Hills weren't kooks. They weren't truthers. They were just trying to live their life and be happy. Everything changed on the night of September 19, 1961.
They ran into a UFO on vacation
Around 10:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 1961, the Hills were driving to Portsmouth from a vacation in Niagara Falls when Betty noticed something in the sky just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire. Betty states that she saw the bright light zip from below the moon to a similar area in the sky as Jupiter. The Hills initially believed the light to be a falling star, but when it began moving upward Betty asked Barney to pull over so they could get a better look.
Barney stopped at a scenic picnic area just south of Twin Mountain, and through a pair of binoculars they noticed an "odd-shaped" vehicle with flashing multicolored lights moving across the face of the moon. It was then that Betty realized that she was seeing a UFO.
Barney thought it was plane
Barney was initially skeptical that they were seeing an UFO. He was certain that they were checking out a commercial airliner traveling to Montreal, but after watching the craft change directions and descend quickly he changed his mind. The Hills go in their car and took off toward Franconia Notch, a narrow, mountainous road, thinking that their UFO experience was over for the evening.
The UFO tore across the sky
While driving down the twisted stretch of isolated road the Hills realized that the UFO was on a similar course. The craft passed over a restaurant, a signal tower, and a mountain range. Betty claims that the craft was about one and a half times the length of the granite cliff profile of Cannon Mountain, and that the ship was rotating silently while moving around the sky.
The Hills tried to escape
All of this activity was too much for the Hills. They got back in their car and started on their trip again, but about one mile south of Indian Head the object quickly descended toward their vehicle causing them to stop their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air right in the middle of the highway.
The couple reports that the giant craft hovered about 100 feet above their car, and rather than burn rubber out of there, Barney got out of the vehicle with a pistol to get a closer look. He claimed that from his position on the road he could see from eight to eleven humanoids staring at him from the windows of the craft. It's here that Barney states that one of the humanoids psychically communicated to him to "stay where you are and keep looking." From there, red lights began blinking on the "bat-wing fins" before a telescope appeared on the side of the craft and a structure descended from the bottom of the ship.
The burning orb in the road
Even though he was told to stay put by the humanoids, Barney ran back to the car and shouted, "They're going to capture us!" He jumped back in the car and tried to escape before the ship overtook their vehicle. A tingling sensation passed through their bodies, and this is when the Hills say that their minds became engulfed in a mental fuzz. After a series and beeping sounds, the Hills realized that they'd traveled close to 35 miles south. After shaking off their brain fog they remembered that they'd made a sharp turn where they found a roadblock before seeing an orb burning brightly in the road.
The Hills make it home with no recollection of the night's events
The couple made it home as the sun was rising, and even though they couldn't fully remember what happened in the previous evening they knew something was wrong. Betty wanted their luggage to stay bear the back door, and Barney had an odd compulsion to check his nether regions. The couple both took incredibly long showers before drawing pictures of what they observed.
The Hills didn't know what it was, but something was wrong
After a couple hours of sleep, Betty woke and placed all of the clothing that she was wearing during the drive in her closet. She noted that there were tears in the dress, and that the zipper and hem were ripped. Later, she threw the dress away before digging it out of the trash and saving it to have it analyzed.
The Hills checked the trunk and noticed shiny, concentric circles that hadn't been there one day before. The couple then used a compass and placed it near the spots on the car where the compass went absolutely bananas. It was clear that something was off, but what?
Alert the military
Two days after the event, on September 21, Betty called the Pease Air Force Base to report her encounter, but she withheld a few details so she didn't look cuckooo-looloo. Major Paul W. Henderson got back to the Hills the next day with follow up questions, and in his report he noted that the couple probably just saw Jupiter. Although later the report was changed to an "optical condition," and later "insufficient data."
Betty hits the books
Days after the encounter with the craft, Betty hit the books at her local library and found a tome written by retired Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe, head of civilian UFO research group NICAP (The National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena).
Hill reached out the Keyhoe on September 2to relate the full story, complete with details on the humanoids watching from inside the ship. Included in the letter was Hill's admission that she and her husband were thinking of undergoing hypnosis to get to the bottom of what happened.
Barney believed he had a mental block on the abduction
Keyhoe passed the letter along to NICAP investigator Walter Webb who interviewed the Hills for six hours on October 21, 1961. In the interview Barney admitted that there was a kind of "mental block" on his memories of the experience with the craft. He believed that there was something about the evening that he just couldn't remember.
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 (e.g., exact time and length of visibility, apparent sizes of object and occupants, distance and height of object, etc.)
Nightmares and dreamscapes
A little over a week after their alleged UFO encounter, Betty experienced a series of dreams that continued for five successive nights. At the end of the five night run Betty's vivid dreams came to an abrupt end. She mentioned the dreams to Barney, but when he was unconcerned she dropped the matter, but she was privately concerned.
In November Betty wrote down the details of her dreams, noting that in one of them the car surrounded by men and she passed out while Barney fought to get control of their vehicle.
Were Betty's dreams her reality?
In another dream, the men who circled Betty and Barney were absolutely clear. They were about five feet four inches tall and wore matching blue uniforms and hats that made them look like a military force. The humanoids had black hair, dark eyes, blue lips, and protruding noses. Their skin was gray in color, and they were able to make she and Barney sleepwalk to the craft.
The alien examination was cordial, sort of...
Betty's remembrance has the Hills "sleepwalking" up a ramp into a disc-shaped craft of metallic appearance followed by the dripped out humanoids. The couple was separated once they made their way inside for ease of examination.
Hill continues, stating that a humanoid that she refers to as "the examiner" spoke to herewith a calm and pleasant demeanor, and that he explained to her that he was just trying to determine the differences between Betty and members of the crew. During his examination he checks her extremities, cut off a piece of her hair, trimmed her fingernails, and shoved a needle into her navel. When she cried out in pain the examiner allegedly waved his hand over her face and the pain dissipated.
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 from where he came, and he pulled down an instructional map dotted with stars.
No souvenirs in space
After the examination Betty spoke with a humanoid which she describes as "the leader," a creature who seemed to be in charge who was open about their time in space and who offered some items in the ship as knick knacks for her time in the ship. When she asked where they came from the leader found an instruction map dotted with stars and pointed out his home planet to her.
When everything was said and done a group humanoids escorted the Hills from the ship and broke out into an argument over the book that Betty wanted to take home. Chastised for wanting to take home a commemorative object from her abduction, Betty insisted that she would remember the events regardless of what happened to their memory. When the Hills were returned to their car the leader suggested they watch the craft depart. After doing so the Hills resumed their trip home.
The NICAP investigation
NICAP interviewed the Hills at length on November 25, 1961, where they tried to hammer down just how long their trip aboard the craft took. The entire drive home from Niagara should have only taken four hours, but they didn't make it home until seven hours after leaving Colebrook, New Hampshire.
The couple was unable to explain this discrepancy in their story, only adding to the likelihood of an abduction. Neither of the Hills were able to explain their missing time soon US Route 3 between Indian Head and Ashland, but they did remember seeing a fiery orb. Although they initially believed the orb to be the moon, they were even more confounded when they discovered that the moon had set long before their time on Route 3. It was then that the idea of hypnotizing the couple came up, something that Barney was interested in if only to help Betty figure out what was happening with her dreams.
The Hills finally go public
The Hills kept mum about their abduction until spring of 1963 when they spoke about the encounter with members of their church. In September of that year the Hills spoke with Captain Ben H. Swett of the United States Air Force, a guest speaker with their congregation, about the possibility of formal hypnosis. The couple was referred to Benjamin Simon, a hypnotist from Boston.
On December 14, 1963, the Hills had their first meeting with Simon and he realized that Barney was much more anxious about the ordeal than he was letting on. Even though Simon didn't believe the UFO story he did believe that the Hills believed their experience was real.
Hypnosis opened up the Hill's story even more
The Hills first underwent hypnotism on January 4, 1964, and their sessions lasted until June 6 of that year. During Barney's sessions he recalled witnessing humanoid figures and remembered being truly fearful of what they were going to do to him. He admitted that he kept his his eyes closed for much of the examination, thus he couldn't be certain about what he was seeing.
In another session, Barney stated that after getting back to his car he had the uncontrollable urge to drive into the woods. After seeing six humanoids standing near a dirt road the car came to an abrupt stop and three of the humanoids approached the car. The said to not fear them, but Barney was still anxious. He said "I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes."
Map to the stars
When Betty was out under she recounted a story incredibly similar to her dreams concerning the UFO abduction with a few very specific distances relating to the initial capture and the couple's release. She also gave different details of the humanoids than from the retelling of her dreams, but her and Barney's hypnosis induced memories were eerily consistent with one another.
Following one incredibly emotional session Simon suggested that Betty sketch the "star map" that she lated descried as a 3D projection. Like something out of a B-Movie, she drew the stars that immediately jumped out to her, which quickly became a map of 12 major stars connected by three lines, and a three smaller stars that formed a distinct triangle. She explained that the stars formed a series of "trade routes."
Simon remained skeptical
Simon never did get on board with the Hill's story of their abduction. He believed that Barney's remembrance of the encounter was likely inspired by Betty's dreams, although Barney disagreed. Even though the Hills and Simon disagreed on the story of the abduction, the Hills were grateful for the hypnosis treatment as it greatly eased their anxiety over the events of 1961.
The Hills were never abducted again
Following their work with Simon the Hills pretty much went back to their normal lives. They were open about their experience with the UFO but they didn't seek out publicity for their alleged abduction. The couple came to international attention on October 25, 1965, when the Boston Traveller published the story, "UFO Chiller: Did THEY Seize Couple?" by John H. Luttrell, a reporter who heard an audio recording of a talk that the couple gave in 1963.
In 1966, John G. Fuller wrote The Interrupted Journey, a book about the case with the cooperation of the hills and Simon. The book included Simon's findings as well as Betty's star map. Three years later, on February 25, 1969, Barney passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 46. Betty never remarried, and she continued to tell her story whenever she was asked. She passed away on October 17, 2004. She was 85-years-old.