Barney and Betty Hill
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Barney and Betty Hill
Betty and Barney Hill with their dog, Delsey.
|Born||Barney Hill Jr.:|
July 20, 1922
Newport News, Virginia
Eunice Elizabeth Barrett:
June 28, 1919
Newton, New Hampshire
|Died||Barney: February 25, 1969 (aged 46)|
Betty: October 23, 2004 (aged 85)
|Occupation||Postal worker, civil rights leader (Barney)|
Social worker, civil rights advocate (Betty)
|Known for||First claimants of alien abduction|
Barney and Betty Hill were an American couple who claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural portion of the state of New Hampshire from September 19 to 20, 1961. It was the first widely publicized report of an alien abduction in the United States.
The incident came to be called the "Hill Abduction" and the "Zeta Reticuli Incident" because the couple stated they had been kidnapped by aliens who claimed to be from the Zeta Reticuli system. Their story was adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television movie The UFO Incident. In September 2016, plans were announced to make a film based on the events, with an unknown release date.
Most of Betty Hill's notes, tapes, and other items have been placed in the permanent collection at the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater. In July 2011, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources marked the site of the alleged craft's first approach with a historical marker.
The Hills lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Barney (1922–1969) was employed by the United States Postal Service, while Betty (née Eunice Barrett) (1919–2004) was a social worker. Active in the local Unitarian congregation, the Hills were also members of the NAACP and community leaders, and Barney sat on a local board of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. They were an interracial couple at a time when it was particularly uncommon in the United States; Barney was black and Betty was white.
According to a variety of reports given by the Hills, the alleged UFO sighting happened on September 19, 1961, around 10:30 p.m. The Hills were driving back to Portsmouth from a vacation in Niagara Falls and Montreal. Just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire, 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, Betty reasoned that she was observing a falling star, only it moved upward. 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.
Betty, looking through binoculars, observed an "odd-shaped" craft flashing multi-colored lights travel across the face of the Moon. Because her sister had several years earlier said she had seen a flying saucer, Betty thought it might 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." They quickly returned to the car and drove toward Franconia Notch, 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 and came out near the Old Man of the Mountain. Betty testified that it was at least one and a half times the length of the granite cliff profile, which was 40 feet (12 m) long, and that it seemed to be rotating. The couple watched as the silent, illuminated craft moved erratically and bounced back and forth in the night sky.
Approximately one mile south of Indian Head, they said, the object rapidly descended toward their vehicle, causing Barney to stop in the middle of the highway. The huge, silent craft hovered approximately 80–100 feet (24–30 m) above the Hills' 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and filled the entire field of view in 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." Barney had a recollection of observing the humanoid forms wearing glossy black uniforms and black caps. 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 (15–24 m) overhead and 300 feet (91 m) away from him. On October 21, 1961, Barney reported to National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (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. 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. The Hills said that then they experienced the onset of an altered state of consciousness that left their minds dulled. A second series of beeping or buzzing sounds returned the couple to full consciousness. They found that they had traveled nearly 35 miles (56 km) 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.
Arriving home at about dawn, the Hills assert that they had some odd sensations and impulses they could not readily explain: Betty insisted their luggage be kept near the back door rather than in the main part of the house. Their watches would never work again. Barney said that the leather strap for the binoculars was torn, though he could not recall it tearing. The toes of his best dress shoes were 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.
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. 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 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, 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 who was also the head of NICAP, 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 (e.g., exact time and length of visibility, apparent sizes of object and occupants, distance and height of object, etc.)."
Ten days after the alleged 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. 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 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 blue uniforms, with caps similar to those worn by military cadets. They appeared nearly human, with black hair, dark eyes, prominent noses and bluish lips. Their skin was a greyish colour.
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 used a dull knife, similar to a letter opener, to scrape some of her skin onto what resembled cellophane. He then tested her nervous system and he thrust the needle into her navel, which caused Betty agonizing pain, whereupon 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 from where he came, 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.
Medical help and more interviews
On November 25, 1961, the Hills were again interviewed at length by NICAP members, this time C. D. Jackson and Robert E. Hohmann.
Although the Hills had noted that they had arrived home later than anticipated, the drive should have taken about four hours (178 miles). They claimed not to have realized that they arrived home seven hours after their departure from Colebrook. When Hohman and Jackson noted this discrepancy to the Hills, the couple had no explanation (a phenomenon ufologists call "missing time"). The Hills claimed to recall almost nothing of the 35 miles of US Route 3 between Lincoln/Indian Head and Ashland. Both claimed to recall an image of a fiery orb sitting on the ground. Betty and Barney reasoned that it must have been the moon, but Hohmann and Jackson informed them that the moon had set earlier in the evening.
The subject of hypnosis came up, and it was decided that it should be carried out in order to elicit previously irretrievable 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, 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 what they claimed was the "capture" site on Labor Day weekend in 1965.)
On November 23, 1962, the Hills attended a meeting at the parsonage of their church where the invited guest speaker was Captain Ben H. Swett of the United States 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
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On March 3, 1963, the Hills first publicly discussed the UFO encounter with a group at their church.
On September 7, 1963, Captain Swett returned and gave a formal lecture on hypnosis to a meeting at the Unitarian Church. After the lecture, the Hills told him that Barney was going to a psychiatrist, a Mr. Stephens, whom he liked and trusted. Captain Swett suggested that Barney ask Stephens about the use of hypnosis in his case.
When Barney next met with Stephens, he asked about hypnosis. Stephens referred the Hills to Benjamin Simon of Boston.
The Hills first met 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 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.
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.
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 not to 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 less detailed, as 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, though Barney thought that a sperm sample had been taken. The men scraped his skin and peered in his ears and mouth. A thin tube or cylinder was inserted into his anus and quickly removed. Someone felt his spine and seemed to be counting his vertebrae.
Betty reported a conversation with the "leader" that she understood in English. Barney said that he heard them speaking in a mumbling language he did not understand, yet he also understood them in English. 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." 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. 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 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.
Under hypnosis, Betty's account was similar to the events of her five dreams about the UFO abduction, but there were also notable differences, mainly pertaining to her capture and release. The technology on the craft was different. The short men had a significantly different physical appearance from that of her dreams. The sequential order of the abduction event was also different from Betty's dream account. Barney's and Betty's memories in hypnotic regression were consistent with one another but contradicted some of the information in Betty's dreams.
Betty exhibited considerable emotional distress during her capture and examination. Simon ended one session early because tears were flowing down her cheeks and she appeared distressed.
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. Eventually, 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.
After the hypnosis sessions, Simon speculated that Barney's recollection of the UFO encounter was possibly a fantasy inspired by Betty's dreams. Simon thought it was the most reasonable and consistent explanation. Barney rejected this idea, noting that while their memories were consistent in some regards, 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 their experience.
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 alleged UFO encounter with friends, family and the occasional UFO researcher, but the Hills apparently made no effort to seek publicity.
On October 25, 1965, a front page story in the Boston Traveller asked "UFO Chiller: Did THEY Seize Couple?" Reporter John H. Luttrell of the Traveler had allegedly been given an audio tape recording of the lecture the Hills had made in Quincy Center in late 1963. Luttrell learned that the Hills had undergone hypnosis with Simon; he also obtained notes from confidential interviews the Hills had given to UFO investigators. On October 26, United Press International (UPI) picked up Luttrell's story, and the Hills earned international attention.
In 1966 writer John G. Fuller secured the cooperation of the Hills and Simon and wrote the book The Interrupted Journey (see below) 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.
Later in life, Betty claimed to have seen UFOs a number of times after the initial abduction, and she "became a celebrity in the UFO community."
Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage on February 25, 1969, at age 46; Betty Hill died of cancer on October 17, 2004, at age 85, never having remarried.
Analyzing the star map
In 1968 Marjorie Fish of Oak Harbor, Ohio, read Fuller's Interrupted Journey. She was an elementary school teacher and amateur astronomer. Intrigued by the "star map," Fish wondered if it might be "deciphered" to determine which star system the UFO came from. Assuming that one of the fifteen stars on the map must represent Earth's Sun, Fish constructed a three-dimensional model of nearby Sun-like stars (i.e. stars deemed to have characteristics that could support life such as that found on Earth) using thread and beads, basing stellar distances on those published in the 1969 Gliese Star Catalogue. 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 system of Zeta Reticuli.
Fish sent her analysis to Webb. Agreeing with her conclusions, Webb sent the map to Terence Dickinson, editor of the popular magazine Astronomy. 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 and Steven Soter, arguing that the seeming "star map" was little more than a random alignment of chance points. In an episode of Cosmos in 1980, Sagan demonstrated that without the lines drawn in the maps, the Hill map bore no resemblance to the real-life map. In contrast, those more favorable to the map, such as David Saunders, a statistician who had been on the Condon UFO study, 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.
In the early 1990s the European Hipparcos ("high precision parallax collecting satellite") mission, which measured the distances to more than a hundred thousand stars around the Sun more accurately than ever before, showed that some of the stars in Fish's interpretation of the map were in fact much further away than previously thought. Other research revealed that some stars counted by Fish as likely to host life would have had to be excluded by her own criteria, while some other stars which had been discounted by Fish have been recognised as potential abodes for life. Results such as these led Fish herself to reject her hypothesis in a public statement.
The 1966 publication of Interrupted Journey, by John G. Fuller, details much of the Hills' claims. Excerpts of the book were published in Look magazine, and the book went on to sell many copies and greatly publicize the Hills' account.
Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience by Kathleen Marden further explored Fuller's themes along with scientist Stanton T. Friedman. Marden, who was Betty Hill's niece, knew Betty well and had spoken with her at great length about the encounter. She also examined all of the historical records and scientific reports pertaining to the case and transcribed the Hills' hypnosis sessions with Benjamin Simon for her detailed comparative analysis.
Psychiatrists later suggested that the supposed abduction was a hallucination brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple in early 1960s United States. 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, Simon thought that the Hills' marital status had nothing to do with the UFO encounter.
Skeptic blogger Brian Dunning noted that the hypnosis sessions occurred over two years after the reported abductions, which afforded the couple plenty of time to discuss their encounter. Dunning concluded that the Hills' "inventive tale from the mind of a lifelong UFO fanatic ... is unsupported by any useful evidence, and is perfectly consistent with the purely natural explanation." He added that a timeline analysis of the two Air Force radar sightings from that night in the Project Blue Book record shows that neither correlated with the Hills' story. The Air Force concluded that both targets were probably weather balloons.
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 television show The Outer Limits 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 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" 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. A careful analysis of Barney's description of the non-human entities that he observed reveals significant similarities between the "Bifrost Man" and Barney's descriptive details. One must also take into account Barney's conscious, continuous recall of the entities he observed on the hovering craft. They were dressed in black, shiny uniforms and were "somehow not human."
Jim Macdonald, 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 provoked by their misperceiving an aircraft warning beacon on Cannon Mountain 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, and false memories "recovered" under hypnosis. After reading Macdonald's recreation, UFO expert Robert Sheaffer writes that the Hills are the "poster children" for not driving when sleep deprived. Macdonald's article focuses primarily on the Hills' observations of the light in the sky and the timing of the journey, discounting the Hills' accounts of close encounters south of Cannon Mountain as recovered memories.
Skeptical Inquirer columnist Robert Sheaffer wrote:
I was present at the National UFO Conference in New York City in 1980, at which Betty presented some of the UFO photos she had taken. She showed what must have been well over two hundred slides, mostly of blips, blurs, and blobs against a dark background. These were supposed to be UFOs coming in close, chasing her car, landing, etc... After her talk had exceeded about twice its allotted time, Betty was literally jeered off the stage by what had been at first a very sympathetic audience. This incident, witnessed by many of UFOlogy's leaders and top activists, removed any lingering doubts about Betty's credibility—she had none. In 1995, Betty Hill wrote a self-published book, A Common Sense Approach to UFOs. It is filled with obviously delusional stories, such as seeing entire squadrons of UFOs in flight and a truck levitating above the freeway.
Sheaffer later wrote that as late as 1977, Betty Hill would go on UFO vigils at least three times a week. During one evening she was joined by UFO enthusiast John Oswald. When asked about Betty's continuing UFO observations, Oswald stated, "She is not really seeing UFOs, but she is calling them that." On the night they 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 wrote, "UFOs are a new science ... and our science cannot explain them."
In popular culture
- Barney Hill was on an episode of To Tell the Truth, episode airdate December 12, 1966.
- The couple was portrayed by James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons in the 1975 television film adapted by S. Lee Pogostin, The UFO Incident, and by Basil Wallace and Lee Garlington in the 1996 television series Dark Skies.
- The encounter was portrayed in a segment on the 12th episode of Carl Sagan's miniseries Cosmos, "Encyclopedia Galactica".
- Details of the Hills' case were used in The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space".
- The graphic novel Saucer Country (2012) by Paul Cornell includes the Hills' experience.
- An episode of the Travel Channel series Mysteries at the Museum covered the subject of the abduction.
- In the second season of American Horror Story, called Asylum, Evan Peters and Britne Oldford portray interracial couple Kit and Alma Walker who were abducted by aliens and most likely based on the Hills.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper and Mabel vs. The Future" there is a cryptogram on a UFO that reads "Betty and Barney were here".
- In September 2017, on the People of Earth episode titled "Alien Experiencer Expo", a poster of the Hills is presented at the exposition, with the title "Betty & Barney Hill, First Couple of the Cosmos".
- In May 2018 the Culture and Myth Podcast series "Lore" covered the event in "Episode 87: Road Trip".
- In 2018 the story forms the basis of the "Dinner Party" virtual reality exhibit at the travelling art show Wonderspaces.
- The podcast "And That's Why We Drink" covered the Hills' story in their January 7, 2018, episode, "Bananas in Pajamas and Your Friendly Local Kioskman."
- The Last Podcast on the Left covered the Hills' story in episodes 169 and 170.
- The ninth episode of the 2019 History Channel television series Project Blue Book, entitled "Abduction", is based on the Betty and Barney Hill UFO incident.
- In 2019, the Hills' story was talked about on The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Dan Aykroyd. (Episode 1351)
- In February 2020 mixed martial artist Angela Hill told Joe Rogan that Barney Hill was her grandfather.
- List of reported UFO sightings
- Zeta Reticuli in fiction
- New Hampshire Historical Marker No. 224: Betty and Barney Hill Incident
- Angela Hill (fighter), granddaughter of the Hills
- "Alien Abduction Tale Heads to the Big Screen". ComingSoon.net.
- "Special Collections, University Archives & Museum". unh.edu.
- Jordan, Jessica (July 25, 2011). "Little Green Men Celebrated in NH". NH.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014.
- Pearse, Steve (2011). Set Your Phaser to Stun. Xlibris Corporation. p. 355. ISBN 978-1465343369.
- "Betty Hill, 85, Figure in Alien Abduction Case, Dies". New York Times (online). October 23, 2004. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
- Webb, 1961, p. 1
- Friedman/Marden, Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, 2007. p. 101.
- Friedman/Marden, Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, 2007, p. 102.
- Fuller, The Interrupted Journey, 1966, p 76.
- Friedman, Stanton and Kathleen Marden. Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, 2007, pp. 103–04
- Webb, 1961, p. 3.
- Clark, Jerome. The UFO Book, 1998, p. 276.
- Friedman and Marden. Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, 2007, p. 33.
- Clark, Jerome. The UFO Book, 1998, p. 277.
- University of New Hampshire Archival Collection (needs further citation)
- See Friedman/Marden, 2007, p. 153
- Webb, 1961, pp. 2–3.
- Webb, 1961, p. 4.
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- See Fuller, 1966, pp. 295–302 for a full account of Betty's dreams.
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On the night of Sept. 19, 1961, Barney Hill and his wife Betty were driving home to Portsmouth, N.H., after a holiday in Montreal. A brilliant waxing moon sailed through a cloudless and star-fretted sky. As the Hills watched, first idly and then in terrified astonishment, one of the stars detached itself from the firmament and came down to earth—so near that the Hills could see it was no star.Cite has empty unknown parameter:
- see Clark, 1998
- "The Zeta Reticuli Incident". nicap.org.
- "Zeta Reticuli Incident". gravitywarpdrive.com.
- Johnston, Colin (August 19, 2011). "The Truth about Betty Hill's UFO Star Map". Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
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- Robert Sheaffer (October 25, 2011). "Mr. (and Mrs.) Hills' Wild Ride". Bad UFOs. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- Sheaffer, R. The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence. Prometheus Books, 1986, pp. 34–44. ISBN 0879751460
- Sheaffer, Robert (2011). Psychic Vibrations. Charleston: Create Space. pp. 8, 54.
- Dr. Simon Reveals his Real Thoughts on the Hill "UFO Abduction" Case
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- 'Project Blue Book': Episode 9 recalls the absurd abduction of Barney and Betty Hill
- "Joe Rogan in Instagram: I had a great time with the all powerful @angieoverkill!". Instagram.
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- Betty & Barney Hill – Testimony by Ben H. Swett
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- Hill Wilson Star Map: Info on the Zeta Reticuli Theory