The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction

A Rural Close Encounter

One of the first close encounters in the history of UFO sightings is the Betty and Barney Hill abduction of 1961. The couple lived in New Hampshire, and their strange experience after returning from a trip to Canada thrust them into the national news. The Hills were involved in an incident widely known as the Hill Abduction, but also goes by the name Zeta Reticuli Abduction, thanks to a drawing by Betty Hill. It is one of the earliest widely publicized abduction stories and is better documented, both in popular media and in news than most others.

Betty And Barney Hill

Betty And Barney Hill

How the Betty and Barney Hill Abduction Unfolded

Betty Hill was a social worker who lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband Barney. Barney was a postal worker. Both she and her husband experienced something that neither would ever forget while traveling on a lonely road late at night.

In September of 1961, the Hills visited Canada and northern New York. They were driving home from this trip along Rte. 3 in New Hampshire when the night’s events began to unfold. At about 10 p.m., Betty saw a light in the sky that she says she first attributed to a falling star. However, when the couple pulled over to walk their dog, they looked at the object through a pair of binoculars and saw its many blinking lights fly right across the Moon. Betty began thinking it was a flying saucer they were dealing with.

Barney remained more skeptical than Betty throughout the evening and also in the future when the events were brought up again. Nonetheless, when the object began dipping toward them, Barney reacted. They got back into the car with their dog and drove toward Franconia Notch, always keeping an eye on the UFO. At one point, they watched as it flew across the Old Man of the Mountain, a geological feature that used to be on the face of a mountain there but has since eroded away.

betty and barney hill abduction

The Old Man on the Hill as it looked on April 26, 2003. The geologic feature collapsed seven days after this photograph was taken.

At about 10:30, the craft descended upon the Hills. Barney had a gun and got out of the car with it, but did not fire upon the object. Barney recalled seeing a number of humanoids in the vehicle looking down at him through the windows of the craft. Barney decided to go back in the car with his wife, and as they sat in the car, a strange beeping and buzzing sound began. When they heard those sounds again, they were 35 miles south of the location where the craft had first descended.

After the Incident

When Barney and Betty got home, neither of their watches would work. Their clothes were inexplicably torn and supposedly covered in an odd dust. Their car had odd circular patterns on the trunk. They claim that putting a compass near it would cause the compass to react strangely.

The Hills both lost time, but neither had any injuries or other indications of trauma. Then, Betty had five consecutive nights of dreams that left her wondering what really happened to them. She remembered humanoid creatures taking her aboard their ship by some method of hypnotism, being examined in innocuous ways and then being sent on her way with a book, which was subsequently taken away by another of the creatures who decided the Hills should not remember the abduction.

The Hills eventually sought hypnosis, which revealed yet another story. Betty’s descriptions from her dreams changed in subtle ways under hypnosis. For Barney, things were much more sinister. In fact, Barney recalled an anal probing under hypnosis. Barney also had semen collected in an entirely separate procedure. Their doctor, who conducted the hypnotism, concluded that Betty was a victim of her dreams and that Barney had been brought into the delusion by proxy. In truth, Barney was less sure they were abducted by aliens than his wife. Sadly, he passed away less than a decade after the initial incident at the young age of 46, so he only had so much time to mull it over and speak about it publicly.

hill incident

A marker describing the Hill Abduction in Lincoln, New Hampshire

In the end, it is hard to say just how authentic Betty and Barney’s abduction stories are. Betty’s so-called “Star Map,” which depicted some features of a map she reportedly saw during her experience was disproved by Carl Sagan himself. A local said he was able to replicate the UFO sighting and said it was caused by a streetlamp. On the other hand, Betty and Barney both told similar stories. Their varying levels of surety make it almost easier to believe that they thought something had happened. Whatever occurred that night, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction story has not lost its fame as the decades have passed.

The USAF believed the Hills were actually seeing the planet Jupiter and declined further investigation.

Betty and Barney Hill Abduction, retrieved 7/31/13

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Shelly Barclay writes on a variety of topics from animal facts to mysteries in history. Her main focus is military and political history. She is a writer for the Boston History Examiner, Military History Examiner and the Boston American Revolution History Examiner. She also writes for a local historical society newsletter.

Historic Mysteries