Barney and Betty Hill were an interracial American couple from New Hampshire who claimed to have been victims of an alien abduction in late September, 1961. Barney was a member of the Postal Service and Betty was a social worker. Both were active in the community.
Their UFO encounter supposedly occurred on September 19th. They had been on vacation in Canada and were returning home when Betty saw a small, bright object moving in the sky in the vicinity of Lancaster, New Hampshire. She initially thought it was a falling star but its movement became too erratic. Curious, she urged Barney to stop the car so they could get a better look, and take the opportunity to walk their dog. Barney did so at a picnic area close to Twin Mountain, where he retrieved his pistol in case they were confronted by bears.
Using binoculars, Betty realized that the ‘falling star’ was actually a strange craft with flashing multi-colored lights. Barney still believed that it might have been a commercial liner, until it seemed to turn in their direction. Unnerved, they headed back to the car. They had a right to be nervous as the craft kept coming closer, finally descending rapidly towards them one mile south of Indian Head and forcing Barney to stop abruptly in the middle of the road. Barney picked up the binoculars and observed the craft, noting what appeared to be humanoid figures in the windows. He claimed afterwards that he heard a message in his head telling him to “stay where you are and keep looking”. He didn’t. He ran back to the car and floored it, but the craft was too fast. Both of the Hills felt some sort tingling sensation pass through them and the car began to vibrate. They heard a rhythmic set of beeping sound which lulled them into a near state of sleep, followed by a second series which brought them back to themselves. However, they were some 35 miles from where they last remembered.
Finally arriving home, they decided to compare notes. They each separately drew a picture of what little they could remember, with glaring similarities. They also noted that their watches had stopped running, and both had strange compulsion. Barney felt the need to examine his genitals, even though he found nothing out of the ordinary, and Betty refused to have any of their luggage placed in the main part of the house. Betty also later noted that her dress was torn and covered in a pink powder. The trunk of their car showed shiny, concentric circles which caused the needle of a compass to spin wildly.
Concerned, Betty called the Pease Air Force Base to report the encounter, although she withheld some of the details for fear of being labeled a crank. She was later contacted by Major Paul W. Henderson for a more detailed interview. The fact that both Hills recalled seeing a fiery orb blocking their path led him to conclude that they had misidentified the planet Jupiter, although this was later changed to insufficient data. Betty then wrote to Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe, head of a civilian UFO research group, after reading a book he wrote. He passed on her letter to Walter N. Webb, a Boston astronomer and NICAP member, who stated he believed their account was true.
Around this time, Betty started having extremely vivid dreams in which she and Barney were led up a metallic ramp by greyish humanoids with small ears, bald heads and no noses. They proceeded to separate them and conduct experiments. Betty claimed that she was able to speak to their leader who showed her a star map with the location of their home planet. The dreams abruptly disappeared after five days.
The Hills were once again interviewed by NICAP members on November 25th, 1961. C.D. Jackson and Robert E. Hohman had noted a discrepancy in the supposed and actual length of time their drive took. Even though Betty’s recall was a bit better than Barney’s, neither could provide an explanation. The subject of hypnosis came up and Barney eventually approached his psychiatrist, Dr. Stephens, who referred them to Dr. Benjamin Simon in Boston. The Hills underwent their first hypnosis session on January 4th, 1964.
Barney went first and it was clear that he was much more traumatized by his experiences than Betty. He seemed especially fearful of the beings’ eyes, and his examination appeared to be more thorough, since a probe had been inserted into his anus and a semen sample taken. Betty’s descriptions were similar to her dreams, but there were discrepancies she too appeared to be traumatized. At one point Dr. Simon was forced to end a session early because she was in tears and seemed to be in considerable pain.
Dr. Simon eventually concluded that Betty’s recall of the UFO encounter was based on her dreams, and Barney had more or less created a fantasy around that. The Hills disagreed, citing unique areas in their separate experiences. They went back to their normal lives but gained international recognition when the Boston Traveler ran a front page story on their alleged abduction. Author John G. Fuller published The Interrupted Journey based on their case, with the cooperation of the Hills and Dr. Simon, in 1966. Both Barney and Betty maintained that theirs was a true story right up until their deaths. Betty’s notes, sketches, and other items were placed in a permanent collection at the University of New Hampshire.