On September 19, 1961 an American couple Betty and Barney Hill claim to have been abducted by aliens. Their detailed accounts would become known as the ‘flagship case’ of alien encounters.
It all began on their way home to New Hampshire from visiting Niagara Falls. While driving down Route 3 Betty noticed a strange light in the sky. At first she thought it must have been a falling star only it began to move erratically in different directions. After watching the strange light for some time the couple pulled over just south of Twin Mountain so they could take a better look. Betty examined the bright light with a pair of binoculars and what she saw was a spinning disk with what appeared to be windows running its length. At first they thought it was simply an airliner but the craft suddenly descended in their direction with bright flashing lights. The couple returned to their car and drove to a nearby mountain pass, Franconia Notch.
For some time they watched the object as it flew back and forth across the night’s sky until it suddenly descended once more and hovered just above the road. Barney slammed on his brakes and exited the vehicle. He could see eight to eleven humanoid figures peering out of the windows of the craft. Barney claims to that one of the beings communicated with him: ‘Stay where you are and keep looking’ as a long structure lowered from the hull of the craft. Barney ran back to the car hysterically shouting ‘they’re going to capture us’. The couple drove off at high speed but the sky suddenly became black and empty. Almost immediately the couple could hear a strange rhythmic beep or buzzing sound surround the car. It bounced off the car and left Betty and Barney with a pulsing, tingling sensation through their bodies before a second wave of beeps took place. The couple noticed they had driven 56 kilometres in just a few minutes. They felt numb and their minds were dull.
Upon arriving home in the early hours of the morning Betty and Barney found that their memories of the previous night were fragmented while having strange impulses. Betty insisted that her luggage be kept at the rear of the house and not in the usual spot. Barney felt the urge to examine his genitals over and over. Their watches stopped giving time. Mysterious concentric circles were found on their car that would send compasses into a spin. Betty found one of her dresses to be irreparably damaged, covered in a strange pink powder. However, she placed the clothing on the line and the pink powder blew away. The clothes were subjected to tests from five independent laboratories.
On September 21 Betty phoned Pease Air Force Base to report the UFO incident. She was interviewed by Major Paul W Henderson who would file a report stating that the Hill’s had misidentified Jupiter. The report was later changed a number of times from ‘optical condition’ to ‘inversion’ and finally ‘insufficient data’.
The couple would later go on to try hypnosis in an attempt to unlock some of the blurry memories of the encounter. They were referred by psychiatrist Dr. Stephens to hypnotist Benjamin Simon of Boston.
Barney’s hypnotherapy sessions revealed memories of being taken aboard a craft and getting examined by three humanoid figures. Under the hypnosis, Barney said things like: ‘Oh, those eyes. They’re there in my brain’ 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’. Barney described a dome shaped object placed over his genitals to retrieve a sperm sample. A long tube was inserted into his anus, his skin was scraped. The humanoid examiners studied his ears, hair and teeth. One seemed to be counting the vertebrae of Barney’s spine. The beings seemed to be communicating through telepathy and a strange and unknown language was heard by Barney several times during the encounter.
Betty’s sessions were remarkably similar to Barney’s with many matching and telling details. She showed considerable emotional stress during one of the sessions which had to be ended early due to anxiety.
During one session Betty recalled a star map that she had been shown during the abduction. Dr Simon suggested she recreate the star-map as a way of processing her memories more clearly. She drew the map and explained that the long solid lines were ‘trade routes’ while the dotted lines were to stars less visited.
Local news papers broke the story to the public with the Boston Traveller boasting the front page headline: ‘UFO chiller: Did THEY seize couple?’
In 1966, writer John G Fuller with the aid of the Hills and Dr Simon wrote a book, detailing the abduction, called The Interrupted Journey which became a huge success. The book featured Betty’s famous star-map.
The encounter has since been a constant fuel for fascination in the media. Movies, TV shows, documentaries have all featured the Hill’s mysterious encounter on September 19, 1961.