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The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction (aka The Hill Abduction or Zeta Reticuli Incident) – first widely publicized report of alien abduction

Barney and Betty Hill under hypnosis 1961

Betty and Barney Hill - famous couple allegedly abducted by aliens

Known as the Hill Abduction or Zeta Reticuli incident, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction occurred on the evening of September 19, 1961, and early morning September 20, 1961. The Hills were driving home from a vacation when they allege they were abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural area near the Indian Head resort in New Hampshire.

Although the couple eventually talked about the event with friends and family, for many years they sought no publicity. This changed when a major periodical published a front-page article about the abduction using details from a secret audio recording of the couple discussing the event with a local community group.

Their mysterious and puzzling case, verified by several researchers, psychologists, and scientists, became the first widely publicized report of alien abduction.

Betty first spots the UFO – September 19, 1961

UFO as seen by Barney Hill showing figures, fins, and red lights

It was around 10:30 PM on Tuesday, September 19, 1961, when Betty and Barney Hill were driving back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire from a relaxing vacation in Montreal, Canada and Niagara Falls. Betty Hill, named after the famous civil rights pioneer, was a white social worker employed by the State of New Hampshire in a management position. Her Master’s Degree in social sciences not only opened the door to advancement throughout her career, it opened her eyes to frowned-upon social taboos of the day, allowing her to marry Barney Hill, a black postal employee, member of the New Hampshire State Advisory Committee and board member of the Rockingham County Community Action Program (operated under the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity).

Both Betty and Barney were intelligent, educated, and according to all who knew them, stable, level-headed, and not prone to exaggeration. Scientists Dr. Stanton Friedman spent time with the couple and said afterward, “By no stretch of the imagination could anyone who knows them conclude that they were nuts.”

There were few other cars on the road as Betty and Barney travelled down US Route 3 through a remote region of New Hampshire. Just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire, only one hundred miles from Mystery Hill (aka America’s Stonehenge, a collection of mysterious stone structures), Betty observed a bright point of light in the sky that moved below the moon. Betty reasoned that it was a falling star but could not justify why it moved upward. Barney figured it was a planet but grew frustrated each time the object made an erratic move, contradicting his theory. Soon the object grew brighter, so they stopped the car to walk their dog, Delsey, and take a closer look through the binoculars.

The sighting at the Twin Mountains picnic area

Sketch by Barney Hill shows actual abduction site

Barney pulled the car over at a heavily wooded picnic area just south of Twin Mountain. Worried about bears, he retrieved a pistol he kept in the trunk of the car. Betty stood near the car and continued watching the object through binoculars. As it flew across the face of the moon several times, she noted it was “odd-shaped, multi-colored, with flashing lights. Her sister had once confided in her a “flying saucer” sighting several years earlier and Betty wondered if that was what she was seeing.

Barney took the binoculars from Betty and brought the object into its sights. At first, he thought it must be a plane, then suddenly, the object descended quickly in his direction. Frightened at the object’s apparent aggressive maneuver, Barney and Betty rushed back to the car and drove away, toward Franconia Notch, a narrow, mountainous stretch of road.

Sighting at Franconia Notch

The Hills continued watching the object as they drove through Franconia Notch. When the object passed in front of The Old Man of the Mountain (a series of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire), Betty judged its length to be “half times the length of the granite cliff profile” (at the time, the mountain featured a profile-like a human face that has since collapsed). She also noted that the object appeared to be rotating.

As they drove along Route 3, they said the object seemed to be “playing a game of cat and mouse with them”. Barney noted that it had an “unusual motion” and would dart away to the west and then back, moving closer each time.

Rapid descent of object prompts Hills to stop in middle of highway

Barney Hill sketch showing the leader of the abductors.
Sketch drawn by Barney Hill under hypnosis showing the leader of the abductors.

Approximately one mile south of Indian Head, the object suddenly darted toward their vehicle causing Barney to stop the car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, in the middle of the highway. The object swooped to within eighty feet of their automobile, so close, the Hills noted that it “filled the entire field of the windshield”.

Pistol still in his pocket, Barney walked towards the object and using the binoculars, saw eight to eleven humanoid figures peering out of the craft’s windows. According to Barney, all of the humanoids moved away from the window deeper into the craft except one. The lone figure that remained at the window “communicated a message” to Barney telling him to “stay where you are and keep visual contact”.

From this point onward, events were fuzzy for the couple. Barney vaguely recalls the creatures wearing glossy, black uniforms with black coverings on their heads. Struts emerged from the side of the craft and a long structure descended from the bottom of the craft. The alien vehicle lowered to about fifty feet overhead and three hundred feet away from them. Barney screamed, “They’re going to capture us!” and sprinted back to the car. He drove away at high speed instructing Betty to continue to look out for the object. She rolled down the window and looked up but saw only darkness above them.

More refined sketch by Barney Hill showing one of his abductors

Suddenly, the Hills heard a rhythmic series of beeping and buzzing sounds which they said “seemed to bounce off the trunk of their automobile”. The car vibrated and a tingling sensation rippled through their bodies. Betty says she touched the metal on the passenger door expecting to feel a shock but felt only vibration.

The best the Hills can describe, at this point they experienced some sort of deeper, altered state of consciousness that left their minds dull and confused. A second series of beeping sounds occurred, and the couple became more aware of their surroundings. They discovered they had travelled nearly 35 miles with only spotty recollection of the section of road they had traversed.

The Hills arrive at home tired and confused – September 20, 1961

The mood in the car was quiet as they continued their drive home. Upon arriving at their house, frightened and shaken, the couple left their luggage near the door in order to make a quick escape if needed. Their watches would never run again. The leather strap attached to the binoculars had been ripped away. Barney’s shoes were inexplicably scuffed and scraped, and his clothing was misarranged.

Barney says that he felt compelled to examine his genitals in the bathroom but found nothing wrong. Both took long showers to remove any possible contamination and then sat down to draw pictures of what they had seen. They were surprised to find both sets of drawings were strikingly similar.

Perplexed by the experience, they tried to reconstruct the series of events but found they heard buzzing sounds, and their memories became incomplete and fragmented with each attempt. They both, however, recalled a luminous round orb sitting on the road. Barney remembers saying, “Oh no, not again.”

The morning after

After sleeping for a few hours, Betty placed her shoes and clothing in a closet noticing that the dress she had worn was mysteriously torn at the hem, zipper, and lining. She also noticed a pinkish powder on the dress. She hung the dress on the clothesline and the pink powder blew away. She said the dress was so damaged, she decided to throw it away but then changed her mind and retrieved it. Later, five laboratories would conduct chemical and forensic analysis on the dress.

Similarly, Barney noticed shiny, concentric circles on the car’s trunk. Curiously, a compass, when held near the circles, would whirl rapidly.  More and more he began to understand that something very strange had occurred on that remote New Hampshire highway.

The Air Force shows interest, investigates, then drops the case – September 22, 1961

Sketch of spaceship drawn by Barney Hill
Sketch by Barney Hill showing his recollection of the spaceshift.

On September 21, 1961, at the urging of her sister, Betty called the Pease Air Force Base to report the encounter (later admitting that she withheld some details “for fear of being labelled eccentric”). The following day, Major Paul W. Henderson of the 100th Bomb Wing called the Hills for a more detailed interview. According to later reports, the sighting was for some unknown reason important to the Air Force. This was supported by Major Henderson who reassured Betty, “The UFO was also confirmed by our radar.”

Days later, on September 26, Major Henderson determined that the Hills had misidentified Jupiter. Later his report was changed to “optical condition”, then “inversion”, and finally “insufficient data”. Modern-day researchers would find that in 1961, Pease AFB was home of the 509th Bomb Wing – the same 509th Bomb Wing whose home had been Roswell Air Force Base just 15 years earlier.

Despite his ruling of the object as “Jupiter”, Major Henderson’s comment to Betty was later buoyed by an unusual entry in the Pease AFB logs which has convinced many investigators that Pease AFB did indeed pick up something unusual on their radar that night. The entry (Report No. 100-1-61) read, “a strange incident occurred at 0214 local on 20 Sept. No importance was attached to the incident at the time.”

Betty contacts Donald E. Keyhoe/National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon (NICAP) – September 26, 1961

Still plagued with curiosity and disappointed with Major Henderson’s brush-off, Betty checked out a UFO book from the library – The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, written by Donald E. Keyhoe, head of NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon). On September 26, Betty wrote Keyhoe and related the full story. Her letter was eventually passed to Walter N. Webb, an astronomer at Boston’s Hayden Planetarium and NICAP member.

On October 21, 1961, astronomer and experienced NICAP investigator Walter N. Web met with the Hills and interviewed them for several hours at their home in Portsmouth. Barney asserted that he had developed some sort of “mental block” and that he suspected there were portions of the event that he did not wish to remember. Webb concluded:

“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.).”

Betty Hill’s dreams

Route taken by Barney and Betty Hill on September 19, 1961

Ten days after the event, Betty began having unusually vivid dreams. She had never had dreams in such detail and intensity. After five consecutive nights of bizarre dreams, they abruptly stopped. However, she could not stop thinking about them.

The following month, Betty began recording what she could remember of the dreams. In one, she and Barney encountered a roadblock and a line of men who surrounded their car. She fought the abductors and realized she was being escorted by two small men through a forest in the night. She saw Barney walking behind her, as if in a trance. She recalled the men were about four feet tall and wore dark uniforms with similarly colored head coverings. They appeared somewhat human with dark eyes, bluish lips, and grayish skin color.

In her dream, Betty, Barney and the men walked up a ramp into a disc-shaped craft of metallic appearance. Once inside, Betty and Barney were separated. She protested but one of the men explained that if the examinations were conducted while they were together, it would take much longer.

A different man entered the room to conduct the examines (Betty would later refer to this man as “The Examiner”). She said the humanoid spoke to her in English, but The Examiner’s command of the language was so perfect, she had difficulty comprehending him.

Betty was seated on a chair and a bright light shone on her. The man cut off a lock of her hair and examined her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, throat, hands, legs, and feet. He saved trimming of her fingernails and used a dull knife-like device to scrape some of her skin onto what resembled cellophane. He then thrust a needle into her navel causing her great pain. Betty says he waved his hand in front of her face and the pain vanished.

She saw a book on a table with strange symbols on it and asked the man where they were from. He showed her an 3-foot by 2-foot map dotted with many stars. Betty described the map surface as flat but the representation of the stars as three dimensional. She noted the stars on the map glowed. There were many stars on the map, but she only took notice of the prominent ones that were connected by lines forming a distinctive triangle. The Examiner explained to her that the lines on the map represented “trade routes”.

Betty and Barney were then taken off the ship and to their car and told that they should watch while the ship departed. They did so and then resumed their drive home.

The second NICAP interview

Barney holding up a diagram explaining the alien abduction

On November 25, 1961, NICAP members C.D. Jackson and Robert E. Hohmann interviewed the Hills again. During the interview, one of the investigators stumbled across a key question – “Why had it taken the Hills so long to get home? Including mileage, stoppage, and traffic conditions, they calculated an estimate time of arrival and found that the Hills should have arrived home two hours sooner than they did. Although the couple said they had no memory of a 35-mile stretch of the road, the couple had no explanation for the missing time. At first, investigators considered this a suspicious discrepancy but today we know the phenomena as “missing time”, a frequently reported anomaly in abduction cases.

Despite all efforts, the Hills could recall almost nothing about the 35 miles between Lincoln/Indian Head and Ashland (Betty’s recall was a bit better than Barney’s). All they could remember with certainty was a fiery orb floating near the ground that both had reasoned must have been the moon. The investigators informed them that the moon had set earlier in the evening and would not have been visible.

Former Air Force intelligence officer and close friend of the Hills, Major James MacDonald, was present during the NICAP interviews. He suggested hypnosis to recover their lost segments of memory. Barney was not convinced but thought it might help Betty put to rest her “nonsense” dreams.

In an effort to retrieve memories of the event, the Hills began making frequent trips back to the White Mountains. They were successful in locating the site where they observed the fiery orb in the road. Three years later, the “capture site” was finally discovered.

First public disclosure of the event

The Hills went years before telling anyone other than investigators and Betty’s sister, about the event. Finally, on March 3, 1963, they broke their silence, discussing the event openly with members of their church. As had been proposed time and time again, one of the teachers at the church suggested they look into hypnosis and referred them to Benjamin Simon, a well-known Boston psychiatrist and neurologist.

After Barney’s health took a turn for the worse (he suffered from ulcers and hypertension), he decided to try regressive hypnosis, a hypnosis method that helps the subject reacquire lost memories by “taking them back” to a prior time and place. Barney figured regressive hypnosis might not only help Betty with her “nonsense” dreams but might help relieve some of his anxiety over the incident.

Hypnosis sessions conducted by Dr. Benjamin Simon

The Hills met with Dr. Benjamin Simon on December 4, 1963. Simon determined that the UFO encounters were indeed causing Barney more anxiety than he was willing to admit. Though Simon initially dismissed the event as an alien/UFO encounter, he recognized immediately that the Hills truly thought they had seen something.

Dr. Simon first hypnosis session with the Hills took place on January 4, 1964. The series of sessions lasted for several months, concluding on June 4, 1964. During the sessions, Barney and Betty were kept apart so neither could overhear the other’s recollections. Over the course of the sessions, the story of the missing two hours began to merge.

Barney Hill’s hypnosis sessions – the story of the missing two hours at last

Alien space ship, at 200 feet and 100 feet above the Earth's surface, drawn by Betty Hill

Barney was hypnotized first. Simon noted that his recall of the humanoid creatures prompted great emotional expressions of fear. Barney recalled that due to this fear, he kept his eyes closed for much of the abduction (explaining why Betty’s account of the events contained more visual detail than Barney’s). He reported that the binocular strap had broken when he ran from the UFO to his car. He recalled being inexplicably compelled to pull off the road and drive into the woods where he saw six “men” standing in the middle of a dirt road. The car stalled multiple times as three of the men approached the car. They told him to “have no fear”. He vividly recollected their dark eyes which “seemed to draw him in”.

Barney remembered how he and Betty were taken into a disc-shaped craft and separated. He was told to lie on a small rectangular exam table. A cup-like device was placed over his genitals. He did not feel an orgasm but felt that somehow a sperm sample was taken. The men scraped his skin, and a thin tube or cylinder was inserted into his anus and quickly removed. Barney said he heard them speaking in a “mumbling language” that he did not understand yet at the same time, he also understood them in English. The few times that they purposely communicated with him, he said their mouths did not move and he understood it to be “thought transference” (he was unfamiliar with the word “telepathy”).

He recalled being taken from the ship and escorted to his car. In a daze, he watched the ship leave.

Betty Hills hypnosis sessions – revelation of the “star map”

Sketch drawn by Betty Hill shows a map she was shown by the leader
Sketch drawn by Betty Hill while under hypnosis.

Betty’s account was remarkably similar to Barney’s but only somewhat like the vivid dreams she experienced a week after the event. When compared to her dreams, the physical appearance of the men was different as was the sequence of events. Betty also exhibited considerable emotional distress during the hypnosis sessions. In fact, Simon ended one session early because she was crying so hard.

Betty was not confident she could accurately depict the “star map” the extraterrestrials had shown her but under hypnosis, made an attempt. She drew only the stars that stood out in her memory. The map consisted of twelve prominent stars connected by lines and three lesser stars that formed a distinctive triangle. She noted that the stars connected by solid lines were “trade routes” whereas the dashed-lines were to less-travelled star systems.

Dr. Benjamin Simon’s conclusion – the Hills were telling the truth

Dr. Simon did not feel the Hills were lying but speculated that their recall of the UFO encounter could be a fantasy inspired by Betty’s dreams to fill the missing time period. He explained that either:

“(1) The experience actually happened or (2) some perceptive and illusory misinterpretations occurred in relationship to some real event. What the ‘real event’ may be, I do not know.”

Strangely, Simon officially concluded that the memory of the events manifested themselves from Betty’s dreams despite the fact that the events in her dreams were markedly different from the events she recalled during hypnosis. What she recalled during hypnosis, however, did match Barney’s recollected memories quite well. In fact, the results from the sessions caused Barney to accept that they had been abducted by alien occupants of a UFO.

Afterward, the Hills concurred that the hypnosis sessions were worthwhile and admitted that they were no longer tormented by anxiety about the encounter. Simon went on to publish an article for the journal Psychiatric Opinion explaining his conclusion that the case was likely a singular psychological aberration.

The Hills receive unwelcome widespread publicity

 Betty and Barney Hill Incident roadside marker, Daniel Webster Highway (Route 3), Lincoln, New Hampshire

After the hypnosis sessions, the Hills were willing to discuss the UFO encounter with more friends and family but made no effort to seek publicity. Then on October 25, 1965, the Boston Traveler published a front-page story titled: “UFO Chiller: Did THEY seize Couple?” The author, John H. Luttrell, had allegedly been given an audio tape recording of the Hills discussing the UFO abduction with researchers at the Quincy Center in late 1963. Luttrell was also able to obtain confidential reports the couple had given to UFO investigators. UPI picked up the story the next day and the Hills earned unwanted international attention over their story.

The Hills noted that the UPI story had several inaccuracies and several years later, writer John G. Fuller secured the cooperation of the Hills and Simon and published the book The Interrupted Journey about the case. The book clarified the true details of the event. It sold well and excerpts were even published in Look magazine.

Shortly thereafter, Betty’s niece, Kathleen Marden, released a book with more details and explored Fuller’s themes and those of scientist Stanton T. Friedman in Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill Experience. The popularity of the plethora of evidentiary literature brought the Hills’ abduction to the forefront of public interest making it one of the most popular alien/UFO abduction cases in modern history.

Evaluating the evidence

Years after the event, elementary teacher matches Betty’s star map to a star system

Betty’s star map remains one of the most debated aspects of the Betty and Barney Hill case. Betty drew the map, a copy of which appeared in Fuller’s Interrupted Journey, during a hypnosis session. According to Betty’s account of the events,

“I said, ‘I know you’re not from this planet but where are you from?’ He showed me a star map indicating where he came from.”

At first, the map’s validity was discounted because it did not appear to match any known star system. This changed in the late 60’s after an elementary school teacher, Marjorie Fish, spent hours with beads and string creating three dimensional representations of the star map drawing and repeatedly repositioning the stars in an attempt to match it to a known star system.

Star Map: Zeta Reticuli

Fish began with the obvious assumption that one of the stars in the map must have been Sol (our Sun). Then, using a 1969 Gliese Star Catalog, she discounted variable stars because of their large temperature variations, stars of F4 or higher (too young to support life) and M-class red dwarfs (planets would be tidally locked). She took the remaining stars and began modelling and viewing them from every possible angle. Finally, she found a match – the double star system of Zeta Reticuli, a star system very near our own. She pointed out,

“Since we did not have the data to make such a map in 1961 when Betty saw it, or in 1964 when she drew it, it could not be a hoax. Since the stars with lines to them are such a select group, it is almost impossible that the resemblance between Betty’s map and reality could be coincidental. Betty’s map could only have been drawn after contact with extraterrestrials.”

Fish’s theory roared through the literary circles even reaching Astronomy Magazine where a debate amongst prominent scientists erupted. Carl Sagan argued that it was just random chance that Fish’s model matched a star system and thought that if you looked hard enough, you would be able to find another matching pattern somewhere else. Dave Saunders, a statistician who worked on the Condor Study, disagreed and argued that “the unusual alignment of key Sun-like stars in a plane centered around Zeta Reticuli was statistically improbable to have happened by chance from a random group of stars in our immediate neighborhood.”

At the time of Betty and Barney Hill’s sighting, there was very little knowledge of the Zeta Reticuli star system but today we know that Zeta Reticuli is a wide binary star system visible with the naked eye in the southern constellation of Reticulum. The system is located about 39 light years from Earth. Both stars in the Zeta Reticuli system are “solar analogs” meaning they share similar characteristics with the Sun. However, no planets have definitively been identified in the system – but several candidates have been proposed.

Hot Jupiter in Zeta Reticuli system

In 1996, a tentative discovery of a “hot Jupiter” around one of the stars in Zeta Reticuli was reported – then as excitement mounted, the discovery was quickly retracted. However, in 2007, the Spitzer Space Telescope discovered infrared radiation in the Zeta Reticuli system. It is now believed that a debris field is positioned around the stars and an undetected Jupiter-like planet is orbiting just outside the debris disk.

Epsilon Eridani star – one of our nearest extrasolar systems

Once Betty’s map was matched to an existing star system in our galaxy, it became apparent that one star on the map was very close to our Sun. The Epsilon Eridani star, marked on Betty’s map as a “trade route”, is also located in the southern constellation. It is only 10.5 light years away from Earth and today it is considered one of the nearest extrasolar systems with a candidate exoplanet capable of supporting life (an observation that did not emerge until decades after Betty drew her map). Like Zeta Reticuli, it also appears to include some type of rocky asteroid belt in its orbital path.


The Hills story closes

After their life-changing abduction event gained widespread notoriety, the Hills became active in the UFO community, painfully seeking answers to explain the event they had experienced. During the remaining years of their lives, the Hills were interviewed and questioned by many scientists and investigators. Veritably all that met and interviewed the Hills are in agreement on one important fact – the Hills did not make their story up and the events put forward in their testimony are based upon some real event that they truly believe happened.

Barney Hill died on February 25, 1969, of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 46 years old.

Upon the loss of her husband, Betty forever kept her eyes on the sky. Betty Hill died of cancer on October 17, 2004, at the age of 85.

Impact of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction on modern culture

The event has played prominently throughout our modern-day culture. Notable mentions of the event include:

The couple was portrayed by James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons in the 1975 television movie adapted by S Lee Pogostin, The UFO Incident, and by Basil Wallace and Lee Garlington in the 1996 television series Dark Skies.

The Hills were briefly pictured and discussed in the miniseries Taken.

The book The Chronologies of Babylon 5, which describes the fictional timeline of the Babylon 5 universe, states that the couple was abducted by a race called The Strieb.

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“.

Certain components of the case were depicted in American Horror Story: Asylum.

In the Japanese drama series Toshi Densetsu no Onna, the Hill abduction was mentioned in the second episode of Season Two.

The song “Down to the Well” by Pixies on the album Bossanova references Betty Hill.

The Hill’s alien abduction experience was reenacted in an episode of Monsters and Mysteries in America.

An episode of the Travel Channel series Mysteries at the Museum covered the subject of the abduction.

Additional information

Partial interview transcriptions

PBS Interview – April 1, 1997

JOE MORTON: In the early morning hours of September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were traveling along a deserted New Hampshire highway, when an event occurred that would forever change the course of their lives.

BETTY HILL: It was a beautiful night. The moon was very bright, and we were calm and relaxed, and the radio was playing, when I saw the strange light in the sky. It came out over the highway and stopped directly in front of us.

JOE MORTON: What Betty thought she saw was a flying saucer.

BETTY HILL: And at this point, Barney got out with the binoculars in an attempt to identify the craft. And as he looked up, he could see a row of men standing in the windows, looking down at him. The craft began to descend, and he had the feeling they were trying to abduct him.

JOE MORTON: At first, Betty and Barney Hill recalled only shadowy fragments of what happened that night. But much later, under hypnosis, their memories came into sharper focus.

BARNEY HILL: The leader is telling me something. I can see it in his face.

JOE MORTON: These tapes were recorded during hypnosis with the late Barney Hill.

BARNEY HILL: Run! God, give me strength! I’ve got to get away! Oh! Oh!

JOE MORTON: According to the Hills’ extraordinary tale, they were forced to board a flying saucer by creatures from outer space.

BETTY HILL: As far as we know, we are probably, at least in modern-day life, the first ones to have face-to-face contact with astronauts from another solar system.

JOE MORTON: Betty and Barney may; have been the first but are certainly not the last to report an alien abduction. Since that night on a lonely highway thirty years ago, thousands have come forward, charging that they, too, are the victims of UFO kidnapping. And a recent poll suggests that millions of Americans believe them, including author Budd Hopkins.

JOE MORTON: In 1964, this cult hit featured an alien with telepathic powers, very much like those Barney and Betty Hill described just days after this broadcast.

BETTY HILL: Well, they had a gray tone to the skin, smaller nose, and thin slit for a mouth. They had larger eyes than ours.

Self-guided tour of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction site

Adapted from Kathleen Marden (

1. Travel north on US 3 from the Indian Head Resort through Franconia Notch. Take Exit 35 toward Twin Mountain. Stop at the Mount Cleveland Scenic Picnic Area. (12.4 miles) This was the Hills’ first observational stop. Through binoculars Betty observed the unconventional craft traveled across the face of the moon.  Barney watched as the craft flew west, and without appearing to turn, rapidly descended toward him.

2. Head south on US 3 3.5 miles to Franconia Notch. The light at the top of Cannon Mountain blinked out as the craft passed above it. Take Exit 34B (Cannon Mt. Tramway/Old Man Historic Site). Walk the path to the Old Man Historic Site—about a 5 min. walk. (Handicap accessible from lower parking lot.) The craft stopped next to the Old Man’s profile measuring 48’.

3. Head south on US 3 through Franconia Notch. Betty described the craft’s stair-step movement as it paced the Hills’ vehicle only hundreds of feet above. Take Exit 34A toward Flume Gorge. Continue south to the Indian Head Resort. Stop to see the Betty and Barney Hill (9/2011) commemorative marker erected by the resort.

4. When Betty and Barney Hill emerged from the south entrance of Franconia Notch late in the evening on 9/19/1961, they were relieved to see a familiar site:  the Indian Head Resort. As the Hills passed the Indian Head Resort, Betty noticed a man standing in the window of one of the cabins and thought about stopping for the night in order to end their UFO experience. However, her curiosity prevented stopping. Barney was relieved to be in a populated area where he might find a police officer to whom he could report the UFO.

5. Travel 1.4 miles south to the Notch Express Store and Irving Gas Station. In 1961, a farmer’s field and apple orchard stood to the left. I-93 had not been constructed this far north and no structure stood where the store is now located.

The large, silent disk-shaped craft now hovered less than 200 feet above the Hills. When Barney stepped out of the car, the craft glided to the field across from the store and descended lower. In a near state of hysteria, Barney ran back to the car screaming to Betty that they were going to be captured. He then sped down the highway.

6.  Drive south to Clark’s Trading Post. Betty rolled down her window and peered upward but could no longer see the craft.

The next destination is the Capture site. The Hills retained no conscious memory of its location. They found it in 1965 after their hypnosis sessions with Dr. Benjamin Simon.

7. 10 miles south of the field, turn left on Cross Road over the Thornton Memorial Bridge. At the stop sign, turn right on NH-175S. Drive a half mile and turn left onto Mill Brook Road. Round the curve to the spot where late at night on 9/19/1961, non-human entities blocked the road. Today it is paved and lined with houses and new side roads. In 1961, it was unpaved and desolate.  The craft landed in a sandy area on the left side of the road.

Complete text from Betty and Barney Hill historical marker

On the night of September 19-20, 1961, Portsmouth, NH couple Betty and Barney Hill experienced a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and two hours of “lost” time while driving south on Rte 3 near Lincoln. They filed an official Air Force Project Blue Book report of a brightly lit cigar-shaped craft the next day but were not public with their story until it was leaked in the Boston Traveler in 1965. This was the first widely reported UFO abduction report in the United States.

NASA’s holography program – 50 years later

NASA Hololens sends holographic doctor to space
NASA surgical hologram in space

In 2022, using the Microsoft Hololens Kinect camera and a personal computer with custom software from Aexa, ESA (European Spaces Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet had a two-way conversation with live images of Schmid and De La Pena placed in the middle of the International Space Station. This was the first holoportation handshake from Earth in space – a technology that NASA acknowledged they have worked on for quite some time.

Pictorial gallery – Betty and Barney Hill

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

Barney and Betty Hill under hypnosis 1961 via Unresolved with usage type - Public Domain
UFO as seen by Barney Hill showing figures, fins, and red lights via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller. The interrupted journey : two lost hours aboard a flying saucer, 1966
Sketch by Barney Hill shows actual abduction site via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
Barney Hill sketch showing the leader of the abductors. via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
More refined sketch by Barney Hill showing one of his abductors via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
Sketch drawn by Betty Hill shows a map she was shown by the leader via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
Sketch of spaceship drawn by Barney Hill via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
Route taken by Barney and Betty Hill on September 19, 1961 via by Barney Hill via John G. Fuller
Barney holding up a diagram explaining the alien abduction via
Alien space ship, at 200 feet and 100 feet above the Earth's surface, drawn by Betty Hill via with usage type - Public Domain. September 20, 1961
Betty and Barney Hill Incident roadside marker, Daniel Webster Highway (Route 3), Lincoln, New Hampshire via Wikipedia Commons by Kenneth C. Zirkel with usage type - Creative Commons License
Star Map: Zeta Reticuli via Wikipedia Commons with usage type - Creative Commons License
Betty and Barney Hill - famous couple allegedly abducted by aliens via Wikipedia Commons. John G. Fuller (deceased) /Copyright owned by the University of New Hampshire

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Barney and Betty Hill under hypnosis 1961 via Unresolved with usage type - Public Domain


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