|BETTY AND BARNEY HILL|
The story of Betty and Barney Hill was well known in the late 1960's
and early 1970's. John Fuller's book, The Interrupted Journey, was
a best seller which later was made into a movie.
About ten years after the experience Barney died, but Betty continued
to appear on TV and radio talk shows, describing her experience.
Theirs was a mixed marriage; she was white, he was black. Barney had
been divorced; his first wife and two children lived in Philadelphia, where
Barney grew up. Betty and Barney had no children of their own.
Betty was from an old-line New England family that had settled in Kingston,
New Hampshire. She entered the University of New Hampshire in 1937, and
later became a social worker in child welfare for the state of New Hampshire.
Barney was an assistant night dispatcher for the Post Office in Boston
until sometime after their experience, when he was transferred to the Portsmouth
They both were intelligent, with high I. Q.s, and very active in the
local Civil Rights movement during the 60s. Barney was a member of the
State Advisory Board on the U. S. Civil Rights Commission, and also for
the Rockingham County Poverty Board. Both Barney and Betty were members
of the Portsmouth chapter of the NAACP. They were also active members of
the local Unitarian-Universalist Church.
Betty and Barney decided to take a vacation trip to Niagara Falls and
Canada. They drove through New England and New York to Buffalo, and then
across Canada to Montreal. From Montreal they returned south on US route
3 through New Hampshire to Portsmouth. They were driving through the White
Mountains south of Cannon Mt near Lincoln, New Hampshire sometime after
midnight on the morning of September 20, 1961 when the experience took
They had memory of a strange craft, appearing first as a small light
in the distance, which they thought was a star or planet. Over a period
of several miles the light appeared to grow brighter, with erratic movements
which could not be attributed to a celestial object. At first Barney believed
it was a plane, but it would remain stationary for some period, then move
off to another position, not as one would expect an airplane to move. Furthermore,
they were in desolate country in the New Hampshire national forest where
no planes should be flying in the early hours of the morning. Barney became
quite upset when Betty insisted it might be a UFO. She was fascinated with
it. She had a sister who had seen a long cylindrical object with little
spheres coming out of it. Betty thought perhaps she would be fortunate
enough to witness one for herself.
The light appeared to grow ever brighter, eventually circling around
their automobile at some distance. They observed it following them, disappearing
behind the New Hampshire hills, only to reappear around the next bend in
the road, sometimes gliding along behind the trees, and then clear once
again as the trees opened up. Finally it swung around in front of them
at close range appearing very large, off to the left. Barney stopped the
car and got out to examine the object with a pair of binoculars, but he
was quite afraid.
Barney did not like the subject of unidentified flying objects. When
it would come up in conversations with friends he would avoid it. Although
Betty had an interest she knew virtually nothing about the phenomena; she
was an avid reader but had not read enough on the subject to become acquainted
Barney's purpose at this point in the experience was to demonstrate
that the phenomena was natural, perhaps a helicopter or some other familiar
flying craft. He did not want to give even tacit acknowledgment to Betty's
suggestion that it might be a UFO.
The object now was quite large to their view, estimated to be a hundred
feet or more in length, and not more than two or three hundred feet distant
from them. It appeared to be a cigar shape, but as they watched two fins
extended from the left and right edges of the craft and red lights started
to glow from the outermost ends of the fins. As the object got closer they
saw blinking multi-colored lights circling the craft. When the object got
still closer and came to a stop near their automobile they could see the
multi-colored lights turn into a steady white glow. As Barney was putting
the binoculars to his eyes he saw the object tilt at an angle to become
a full pancake-like disc. They also saw windows circling the side of the
craft facing them with human-like figures behind the windows. The figures
were wearing uniforms and seemed to be looking at them. Suddenly the figures
all turned, except for one, to become busy with gear of some kind on a
wall behind the windows.
At this point Barney was near hysteria. He got a distinct feeling they
were going to be captured. He jumped into the car, threw the binoculars
on the seat, jammed the car into first gear, and desperately tried to run
from the object. He told Betty to open the window and look to see where
it was. As they sped away the object disappeared from view. Betty noticed
stars through the rear window of the car, but could see none directly overhead
as she peered out the side window. They then heard a strange beeping sound
coming from the rear of the car, like a Morse code.
At that point the sequence of events became hazy in their memory. They
knew they had heard beeping sounds after they started the car, and a second
time when they were near Ashland, thirty-five miles farther south, but
they could not remember the period between. It seemed they were in a semi-wakeful
state, much as a dream walker, which did not leave them until they turned
onto the new I-93. Betty remembered seeing a sign which said that Concord
was 17 miles.
After arriving home they were extremely disturbed, constantly searching
the sky for something, but uncertain what they were looking for. Upon checking
the clocks they realized they were home about two hours later than they
had planned but they could not account for the lost period.
Betty called her sister to relate their story, but Barney was fearful
about the experience and did not want to tell anyone. However, they both
felt they should report the incident to authorities and, after some debate,
decided to call Pease Air Force Base to report it. After talking with an
officer at the base, and receiving calls back for more details, Barney
felt less apprehensive.
Two days later Betty went to the library to find anything that would
help her understand the expience. She found only one book, The Flying
Saucer Conspiracy, by Major Donald Keyhoe. Keyhoe was a former Major
in the Marine Corp who believed the government was trying to discredit
the whole phenomenon. After reading the book she drafted a letter to NICAP,
the National Investigative Committee on Aerial Phenomena, located in Washington,
D.C., to report their experience.
She wrote the letter on September 26, five days after the experience. By October 19 Walter Webb, a lecturer on the staff of the Hayden Planetarium in Boston, had received a letter from NICAP requesting that he interview the Hill couple. He had a personal experience of strange lights back in the early fifties, and spent his spare time investigating reports in the area around Boston. He was known for his accuracy and thoroughness, and would be a help in documenting the Hill case. He met with them on October 21, spending all of an afternoon and evening, testing them repeatedly on their story, and working out all significant details.
His interview and report led to another interview by two men who had spent considerable time attempting to find common threads behind various experiences. These men had heard about the Hills from Major Keyhoe, and were highly interested in the case. During a visit on November 25 they probed the experience deeply. This led the Hills to face the missing period more consciously. Barney, who was usually clear in his memory, was stunned that afternoon when the interview forced him to the fact that he could not remember the two missing hours. He had trouble accepting it. A friend who was present suggested they
try hypnosis to determine why they could
not remember. He also suggested they return to the site of the experience
to see if they could recall the period.
In the meantime Betty had experienced a series of nightmares over a
five day period. She was greatly preoccupied with them because they were
so vivid and so disturbing. Barney suggested she write down the dreams
to help relieve her of the anxiety.
The dreams were a sleeping recall of the missing period, although, at
the time, neither Betty nor Barney realized this. They knew the dreams
were related in some manner to the experience, but because neither had
conscious recall they could not judge their validity.
They postponed the idea of hypnosis, partly because they had no contacts
to therapists they felt they could trust, partly because of their natural
reaction against the idea. However, they made numerous trips to the general
area of their experience north of Lincoln, but without progress in solving
Meanwhile Barney had difficulty with an old ulcer that began to flare
up. His long night drive to his job in Boston, his inability to see his
two sons who lived in Philadelphia, and the experience all contributed
to anxiety on his part. At the same time a condition of high blood pressure
recurred. Treatment of the ulcer conflicted with treatment of the high
blood pressure. Added to these problems was a condition of warts which
began to develop around his groin. Although not physically bothersome they
contributed to his anxious mental state.
The physician attempting to treat his high blood pressure recognized
Barney's mental condition and recommend he consult a psychiatrist. Barney
followed the advice, spending almost a period of a year with a Dr. Duncan
Stephens, from the summer of 1962 through the summer of 1963.
During this period Betty was having trouble sleeping, and continued
to be preoccupied with their experience. She could not forget the vivid
dreams. Although she did not fully understand the meaning she knew they
were connected in some manner with the experience.
In September 1963 they were invited by their church discussion group
to speak on their experience. Present at the meeting was another invited
speaker, an officer from Pease AF Base, who was well known in that area
for his study of hypnosis. He also suggested they attempt to solve the
mystery of the missing hours through hypnosis, although he did not feel
qualified to perform such work himself.
As a result of this suggestion Barney mentioned it to Dr. Stephens who
readily concurred that such an unusual experience might, in some manner,
be contributing to Barney's anxiety. At that point he recommended Dr. Benjamin
Simon, a noted psychiatrist who used hypnosis as part of his treatment.
Interviews and therapy with Dr. Simon began on December 14, 1963.
Dr. Simon was well qualified. He was head of the armed forces psychiatric
services during World War II, and had used hypnosis extensively to treat
problems caused by traumatic battlefield experiences.
The treatment by Dr. Simon lasted until June 1964. Tape recordings were
made of every session, with Betty and Barney treated separately. From these
tape recordings John Fuller pieced together the story which he wrote up
as The Interrupted Journey.
Fuller was brought into contact with the Hills by Betty herself. A reporter
from a Boston newspaper had acquired a tape recording of the talk they
gave to their church group. He had asked to interview them concerning their
experience but they were extremely reluctant to give it publicity. The
reporter felt no obligation to respect the Hill's desire for privacy and
wrote a series of articles in the newspaper in the summer of 1965. This
annoyed both Betty and Barney. They felt the reporter had no right to violate
their privacy; they also feared the publicity would distort the experience,
not providing accurate details.
Meanwhile Fuller was investigating a rash of sightings which had occurred
in Exeter, New Hampshire. Betty had heard about Fuller's interest in the
subject, and, since her social work led her occasionally to the police
station in Exeter, had left a message there for Fuller to contact her.
She felt that perhaps in some manner the true story could be made known,
without wild conjectures in the press through unauthorized reports.
Through this contact Fuller was able to obtain the tapes, interview
all key individuals, and write the story which was first published in Look
Magazine in condensed form, and later in the full book.
From details drawn out during their hypnotic sessions and from recall
during the post-hypnotic therapy, the Hills had the following experience:
They were induced to turn onto a side road. How this was done was not
determined. They could never recall the location of the side road, nor
did they find it after many trips to the area.
As they drove down the side road they noticed a group of men up ahead
flagging them to stop. After they braked to a stop they became nervous
because of their fear of robbery or molestation. They also realized, but
not openly stated to one another, that the unknown men were in some manner
connected with the flying object. Betty, wishing to escape, thought she
might be able to open the door of the car before the men came up to them,
but as she was opening it she realized they were at the door. Three men
had come to her side and another three to Barney's side.
They both were in a semi-dazed state, unable to will themselves into
controlled action. Barney especially was in a state of fearfulness as well,
so that he dared open his eyes only briefly while on board the craft.
Betty later remembered walking between two men with Barney being helped
along by two other men behind her, while two led the way to the craft some
distance off in the woods. Barney was amazed when he got home how his shoes
were scuffed. He was a neat individual who always kept his shoes polished,
and used care in walking to keep them tidy. He could not understand how
that could have happened until after the therapy sessions, when it became
clear to him. He had no self control during the entire experience, did
not walk, but had to be carried by the two space men, with his feet dragging.
They were thus led and carried on board the craft into separate rooms
where they were given physical examinations. After her examination, while
they were waiting for Barney's examination to finish, Betty had some conversation
with a space man. She tried to induce him to permit her to take a book
as proof of the experience. The space man first consented but as they were
leaving the other men had a conversation with him in an unknown language,
after which they took the book from her.
They were taken back to their car much in the same manner as they were
taken to the craft, and invited by the leader of the group to wait and
watch them as they departed. They saw a round orange glowing object disappear
through the trees, which they seemed to remember as the moon.
In their semi-conscious state they arrived back on Rt 3 and drove south
to Ashland where they heard the mysterious beeping sounds again at the
rear of their car. At that point they came into full conscious control
once again. They traveled home, dazed, not being able to remember the events.
Betty and Barney Hill were another example of early forced abduction on to craft for physical examination. The fearsome components inserted by later researchers did not appear so prominent in this episode. However, John Fuller suppressed information out of concern for reaction among the general public in the late 1960's. Examination of the genitals and reproductive organs of the Hills was an important element that came out under hypnosis, but Fuller avoided presenting or discussion that element. Only much later did we become aware of that factor in their experience.