What Do We Know About Alien Abduction?
Betty and Barney Hill had already been married for over a year when they went on their first vacation to Niagara Falls, New York. Late in the evening of September 19, 1961, they were driving home to New Hampshire, expecting to arrive around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. Looking out the car window, Betty watched a light in the clear, dark sky. It appeared to be moving, tracking their path closely. Was it a plane? Or something more mysterious?
When the light passed over their vehicle, just one hundred feet above the road, they stopped the car in shock. The brightly lit object appeared to be a large disk shaped like a pancake, with small, fin-shaped wings on each side and large windows across the front edge. As Barney Hill got out of the car with his binoculars, the disk floated over to a field next to the road. He approached and looked closer. He could see figures moving in the windows. One of them turned to look at him. It wasn’t a human face.
Suddenly very afraid, Barney ran back to the car. But as they drove off, Betty and Barney heard unusual noises, similar to electronic beeps. When they finally got home, both of the Hills felt strange. It was 5:00 a.m., much later than they had expected it to be. They hadn’t encountered any traffic or other delays. So what happened during those missing hours?
Betty and Barney sat down and drew what they could remember of the ship they had seen. Although they worked separately, their drawings of the flying disk were eerily similar. It was unlike anything they had ever encountered before, and they were not sure what to think. What happened to the Hills that night? Would Betty and Barney ever really know? Chapter 1: When Did We First See Alien Life-Forms?
Alien creatures are considered by many people to be simply myths and stories, yet they are very real to those who claim to have seen and communicated with them. These beings from another world are most often called “aliens” or sometimes even “little green men.” A more accurate term is “extraterrestrial.” This word means they are not from this planet.
There is a long history of humans telling stories of seeing gods, angels, and other creatures, which some have interpreted to be about extraterrestrials. Theories about ancient aliens, also called ancient astronauts, claim that these extraterrestrials came to Earth thousands of years ago and shared advanced technology with humans. People who believe these theories point to certain images in ancient art that resemble unknown ships and machinery as proof that the planet was visited by alien beings long ago.
Sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), now also sometimes referred to as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), have been reported in the United States since the late 1800s, with reports of “mystery airships” spotted in the skies. Sometimes occupants were spotted as well. Most famously, in 1896 a man named Colonel H. G. Shaw of Stockton, California, claimed that his horse and buggy came across a landed spacecraft. Three tall, slender beings emerged from the metallic craft and tried to force him and his traveling companion aboard. The newspaper article detailing his story is considered the first published account of a possible alien abduction.
While UFO sightings report craft in different shapes, from tubes to triangles, perhaps the most well known is the disk-shaped craft often called a flying saucer. This term was first used in June 1947 by a newspaper reporting a story about a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold, who saw nine disk-shaped objects flying at high speeds near Mount Rainier, Washington.
Just a month later, the famous Roswell incident occurred, when strange debris found in a New Mexico field prompted one of the biggest controversies in American history. The United States government said it was a weather balloon that had crashed. But early news reports and later eyewitness stories claimed it was a flying saucer and its extraterrestrial crew of alien beings.
Modern reports of UFOs and alien life-forms come from all over the world. One of the first documented claims of an alien abduction was in South America. Antônio Villas Boas said he was taken from his farm in Brazil on October 15, 1957. That night, a bright light in the sky flew toward him. When it got closer, it looked like an egg-shaped craft spinning in the air. Strange beings came out and carried him into the ship. He described them as five feet tall, wearing gray uniforms and helmets.
After he was let off the ship and it flew away, Mr. Villas Boas realized he had been gone for over four hours. He suffered from various medical issues afterward, and a doctor convinced him to tell his story to the public in February 1958.
It was difficult to believe his strange encounter, but Antônio Villas Boas wouldn’t be the only person claiming to be an alien abductee for long. Chapter 2: The Betty and Barney Hill Case
Betty and Barney Hill are considered the model example for modern alien abduction cases. Barney Hill was an army veteran, a postal service worker, and a Boy Scout leader. His wife, Betty, was a social worker. They lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When they took their dog, Delsey, along with them in the car for a family vacation to Niagara Falls in 1961, the Hills had no idea how much their lives were about to change.
Late in the evening on September 19, the Hills were driving home under a bright moon. Both Jupiter and Saturn were visible in the clear sky as Betty Hill looked out the car window. She noticed a light in the sky that appeared to be moving. She pointed it out to her husband, and he guessed it could be a satellite—a machine that is launched into space to collect information or to transmit communications.
When they pulled over to let the dog out, they looked at the object through binoculars. It appeared to be some sort of craft with flashing lights. Back in the car, the Hills thought it was following them. They wondered if it was a plane, but they couldn’t hear an engine. The mysterious craft suddenly flew over their car, about one hundred feet above the road. The Hills stopped again, and it moved over to a field.
It was round, with two rows of large, rectangular windows. Barney could see several figures through his binoculars. They were wearing black and moving around inside. One of them turned and appeared to be looking right at him! Suddenly scared, Barney ran back to the car, and the couple sped off toward their home in Portsmouth. From inside their vehicle, the Hills heard two sets of strange noises, which they later described as a series of electronic beeps. They felt strange and disoriented.
The Hills pulled into their driveway just after 5:00 a.m. It had taken them hours longer to reach home than it should have. They were unsettled. They looked at their car and found shiny, polished-looking circles on the trunk. When they held a compass over the marks, the needle spun wildly. There was other physical evidence that something had happened to them. The strap on their binoculars was broken. The zipper on Betty’s dress was broken, too. Barney had unexplained scratches on the tops of his shoes. Both wore wristwatches that had stopped working (and never worked again). All these things suggested something
had happened to them . . . but what?
Betty Hill called her sister to talk about the experience. Her sister suggested they report it to the local air force base, which the Hills did on September 21. A report was filed, but they never heard anything more from the air force. The couple found contact information for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in Washington, DC, and informed them next. NICAP conducted multiple interviews over time and wrote reports about what the Hills had seen, which eventually became great resources for other UFO researchers.
Not quite two weeks after the encounter, Betty Hill had recurring dreams for five nights straight. She dreamed of hearing the first set of beeps, then being taken aboard an alien ship, having tests performed on her, and communicating with alien beings before being taken back to the car. Then she heard the second set of beeps. Her husband did not have any similar dreams, and at first refused to consider Betty’s dreams might be anything more than that, but Betty was shaken. Had they been abducted by alien beings? Were these dreams really memories? Eventually it was suggested to the couple that they undergo hypnosis to try to remember more.
The Hills found a respected doctor in Boston who agreed to treat them at the beginning of 1964, and each underwent hypnosis in separate sessions. Both remembered that alien beings were standing in the road before approaching the car. The beings took them into the craft while their dog was left in the car. Both Hills recalled being taken aboard the disk-shaped craft and put in separate rooms. Barney remembered the aliens using telepathy (speaking to him through thoughts) and telling him he would not be harmed. The alien beings took hair samples and fingernail clippings, and gave them something like medical exams. Barney recalled the aliens being surprised by his dentures—that he had fake teeth.
While the memories Betty Hill recovered under hypnosis were similar to her nightmares, some of the details were not exactly the same. She claimed there were multiple alien beings in the room with her, and one seemed to be the leader. She could also understand what the being was saying to her, and they had a conversation. She asked to take a book from the room, but she was not allowed to. Betty asked where the beings were from and the leader let her look at a star map—a holographic projection of circles, representing stars and planets, and connecting lines, representing routes of travel. After the hypnosis session, she was able to draw the star map and some of the symbols she had seen in the book.
The leader told Betty Hill that neither she nor her husband would remember what had happened to them. Barney Hill was already back in the car with Delsey when Betty returned. They watched the disk lift off and disappear. They began to drive and then heard the second set of beeping tones. And that is where their conscious memories took over again.
Not everyone believed the Hills’ story. Barney himself was initially afraid to admit the truth, as he had always found such things hard to believe, but the Hills decided that these recovered memories were the true account of what had happened to them. And no one else ever presented them with a better explanation.
When a book about their story called The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours “Aboard a Flying Saucer”
was published, it included the sketches they had made, both their early ones of the ship and the later ones drawn during hypnosis. Many readers found these drawings convincing, especially the star map.
People who doubt the Hills’ story have pointed out that Barney Hill’s memories under hypnosis may have been based on his wife’s earlier nightmares. And that Betty Hill may have seen a television program that influenced her description of the aliens. Yet it does seem that something
happened to the couple late that night on a lonely road, when they seem to have been missing for hours. If not an alien abduction, then what?
The Hills’ story was the first widely reported account of an alien abduction in the United States. Despite their fame, the Hills lived relatively normal lives afterward. Barney Hill died in 1969, and Betty Hill lived until 2004. She gave lectures and shared her story with many others throughout the rest of her life. Interest continued, and a second book cowritten by their niece was published in 2007, titled Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience
In October 1975, a film about their story, The UFO Incident
, aired on television. Over the next few years, dozens more Americans would come forward, many more than before. In fact, one of the most well-known encounters occurred just two weeks after The UFO Incident
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