Betty and Barney Hill Abduction

The Most Documented Abduction in America
Betty and Barney Hill pose with Newspaper front page article
Betty and Barney Hill pose with Newspaper front page article

The first ever reported case of UFO abduction in America occurred in Portsmouth, NH. September of 1961. During a routine drive home the Hills discover their journey had taken an additional two hours without recollection of the missing time.

After psychotherapy a year later, the Hills recollect the events that transpired including detailed information about the craft, its occupants, and most interestingly a map of a star system complete with interplanetary trade routes. The Hills’ case is considered the first well-documented, possibly genuine UFO abduction in history, and can even be found in the released archive of the Project Blue Book files.

Betty Hill was a social worker living in Portsmouth, NH who with her husband Barney, made international news when they started to recall the events of their alleged alien abduction during an evening drive to their home from a vacation in Montreal, Canada. The Hills’ story was the first widely publicized event of alien abduction in American History with coverage in the Boston Traveler, Look magazine, Astronomy, and more.

The Hill Abduction

Barney and Betty began their journey home late in the evening in September 1961, traveling near Lincoln, NH on Route 3 through the Franconia Notch State Park. The couple notices strange lights in the sky seemingly in pursuit and began making regular stops to view the object with binoculars. The multi-colored object rotated silently across the night sky well above Mt. Flume, ascending and descending in an unconventional manner.

Walls of trees guided them down the moonlit road, and they lost sight of the object. Following a curve in the road, Barney forcefully stopped the vehicle as they confronted the sight of a massive “pancake-shaped” craft hovering in front of them. No longer rotating, the craft swung overhead and into a nearby field.

“It was right there, large and hovering and I could not understand this. I knew I had my gun in my pocket and I said, “I will get out and get a better look.” … I could see two red lights coming out from the tip of this thing that did not look like a plane at all, or a helicopter. I could see a long something coming down from the center and I kept going closer and closer. I thought, “My God, what is this thing?!”” -Barney Hill. Captured! (110)

Barney HIll Abduction Craft DrawingThrough the binoculars Barney counted eleven bizarre humanoid figures, many with arms outstretched toward visible control panels moving with military precision. The craft promptly tilted toward Barney and began to descent toward him, one of the figures remained in the window and telepathically communicated to keep staring, and come closer.

Barney found his hands were fixed to the binoculars, he could not find the will to look away. Overcome with panic, he regained control and frantically ran back to the car.

Hysterical, he fumbled into the driver seat and hastily accelerated the already running vehicle. Betty anxiously rolled down the window as the car sped away and leaned out her head to see the craft directly overhead.

Their car started to vibrate with a series of controlled frequency bursts, likened to the tones and pauses of Morse code. Immediately the Hills entered a state of fading consciousness that later accounted for two hours of missing time.

Signs of Struggle

The Hills returned to full consciousness after a second series of code like frequency bursts, 17 miles down the road from the initial encounter near the town of Ashland, NH. They were in a suspended emotional state unable to make a claim to what had happened, and with spotty memories of the last few hours.

They returned home perplexed with physical changes endured during their trip. Betty’s dress was torn and stained, coated with a fine pink powder. Barney had broken the strap on his binoculars and noticed a scuff in his boot. But neither of them could recall any instance of these events taking place.

Betty began having recurring nightmares that pieced together a vivid narrative of their capture. She detailed a memory of boarding a saucer like craft that landed in the woods accompanied by strange humanoid men of a pale gray complexion and blue tinted lips.

They underwent a series of physical and neurological examinations while samples of their tissue were collected and placed on glass slides. Betty’s dress was removed, and a large needle was inserted into her navel.

She began to writhe and scream under the stress which caught the attention of the decorated leader. With a wave of his hand her pain faded, and with a smile he apologized for the pain, and for frightening her.

Betty HIll StarmapNo longer threatened by her captors, Betty asked the commander if he would share what planet they originated from. He pulled down a star map from the wall which displayed many points of light connected with arcing lines of various thickness, some were solid and others were dotted. In further recollections Betty defined the solid lines as being extensive trade routes between the nearby planets, while the dotted lines implied expeditions.

After their examinations concluded the men accompanied Betty and Barney back to their vehicle, and they watched the ship become a fiery ball of light that slowly returned to the sky disappearing in the distance.


Hypnotic Investigation

Two years had passed before the Hills started to seek help and find some closure for their experiences and missing time. Betty having recurring nightmares and Barney showing psychiatric symptoms the couple were desperate for answers.

They sought Clinical Hypnotherapy to aid in their recovery, and were referred to Dr. Benjamin Simon of Mason General Hospital in Long Island, NY. His extensive experience treating WWII Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and amnesia made him a perfect candidate to help discover the events that took place during their missing time.

In rational practice he regressed them in individual sessions to ensure no cross contamination of their stories. Not believing their claims of an extraterrestrial encounter, Simon probed the Hills under hypnotic trance for months theorizing Betty’s dreams were to blame for their coherent stories.

However their narrative was unwavering, and their trauma surrounding the recollection was evident as he repeatedly had to cut their sessions short due to violent emotional stress trying to recover the memories.

“I was skeptical at first, but hearing what was on that [hypnosis] tape, plus the fact they didn’t want any publicity, convinced me they were telling the truth. For example: under hypnosis, Barney described seeing the UFO hovering close to the ground near the road. …Something like a man was looking at him out of a window — right into his eyes — and started putting thoughts in his mind: “He says ‘Come a little closer … Don’t be scared’ … before the point on the tape where Barney started screaming “I’ve gotta get outta here!” and ran back to his car, the physical Barney jumped up and ran out to our kitchen and vomited in the sink. I thought that would be pretty hard to fake.” – Col. Ben H. Swett. Testimony of Ben H. Swett

International Spotlight

The Hills’ story went public after journalist John Luttrell went against their wishes of secrecy and published their claims of abduction on a front page story within the Boston Traveler. His story “UFO Chiller: Did THEY Seize Couple?” accounted audio recordings and detailed notes from their hypnotherapy sessions and was soon picked up by United Press International (UPI) and distributed worldwide garnering unwanted international attention toward the Hills’ UFO encounter.

One year later, journalist John G. Fuller acquired the Hills’ cooperation and published the first comprehensive book of their account in The Interrupted Journey . This was the first publication to include Betty’s sketch of the alleged “star map” from her recurring nightmares

Zeta Reticuli Hypothesis

An elementary school teacher and amateur astronomer, Majorie Fish of Oak Harbor, Ohio read Fuller’s book and was intrigued by the purported star map. Assuming one of the stars on the map was Earth’s Sun, she used the recently published 1969 Gliese Star Catalogue to create a scaled 3d interpretation of our galactic neighborhood using beads and string. Through several years of studying vantage points, she concluded that the best match would be the double star system of Zeta Reticuli.

Fish presented her work to Walter Mitchell, Professor of Astronomy at Ohio State University who double checked Marjorie’s work and found virtually no error. Her theory was submitted to Astronomy magazine, which made clear that they did not advocate Marjorie’s claims but for the first time in the publication’s history invited comments on the UFO report, and featured the article in the beginning of their 1974 issue titled, “The Zeta Reticuli Incident”.

The opinions page generated international interest, and was alight with arguments for and against Fish’s findings for about a year afterward. Carl Sagan and his associate Steven Sotter even found it interesting enough to make a notable reply, stating that they found Fish’s comparison as little more than a convenient alignment of favorable circumstance.   After renewed data was compiled, Marjorie determined that the binary stars of Zeta Reticuli were too close to support life, and issued a statement that withdrew her initial conjecture.

Changed Lives

betty-and-barney-hill-abduction-signThe Hills story was the first of its kind and still remains one of the most powerful accounts of the now well known phenomenon of alien abduction. Leaving behind physical evidence, compelling statements from high ranking officials, and life changing emotional impact for those involved.

The details of their recollection still grip the imagination and remain steadfast to the growing number of alien abduction encounters that continue to be reported around the globe. The Hills case was also cited in the government’s official investigation into the UFO phenomenon named Project Blue Book (file no. 100-1-61) and found cited within that the alleged craft was detected by military radar further giving credence to their encounter.

Through her experiences Betty Hill became a very well known figure in UFOlogy and dedicated the remainder of her life to furthering the research of UFOs despite Barney’s unexpected death in 1969 following a cerebral hemorrhage. Her extensive collected works were compiled and housed in the Milne Archival Collection Department at the University of New Hampshire Library in Durham, NH.


  1. Asimov, Isaac. “Hello, CTA‐21—Is Anyone There?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Nov. 1964. Web. 17 May 2015.
  2. Marjorie Eleanor Fish’s Obituary on News Herald.” News Herald. N.p., 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 May 2015.
  3. Guide to the Betty and Barney Hill Papers, 1961-2006.” Betty and Barney Hill Papers, 1961-2006. University of New Hampshire Library, n.d. Web. 17 May 2015.
  4. Yurchey, Doug. “Hill Map vs Real Astronomy.” UFO Casebook. N.p., 7 Mar. 2003. Web. 17 May 2015.
  5. Marden, Kathleen. “New Hampshire Commemorates Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience.” N.p., 21 July 2011. Web. 24 May 2015.
  6. Fuller, John G. The Interrupted Journey. New York: Berkley Pub., 1974. Print.
  7. Abductions.” UFO Hunters. History Channel. 13 Feb. 2008. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
  8. Marden, Kathleen, and Stanton T. Friedman. Captured!: The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page, 2007. Print.
  9. Swett, Ben H. “Barney & Betty Hill. Testimony of Ben H. Swett.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2015.
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Joel is a professional visual effects artist with work in game, television, and film. He is an enthusiastic researcher of the mysterious and paranormal, and the founder of His favorite topics are history, pop culture, UFOs, extraterrestrial lore, and the spirituality that sometimes accompanies them.
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