The Betty and Barney Hill (Zeta Reticuli) Alien Abduction

On a late September night in 1961, while returning from vacation in Quebec, an American couple Betty and Barney Hill were allegedly abducted by extraterrestrials. The incident became the first widely publicized alien abduction and eventually the focus of worldwide attention.

Betty was a 41 year old child welfare worker while Barney was a 39 year old postal employee: U.S. Route 3, surrounded by woodland, was dark, winding and empty.

The car, indifferent, sped southward a cocoon of twentieth century technology; its occupants, supposedly safe in its comforting embrace, stared blearily through the windshield, their tired eyes narrowing in the glare of occasional oncoming headlights, their heads swaying to the soft music issuing from the AM radio.

It was south of Lancaster that they first noticed the bright light high in the night sky. As time passed it came closer, eventually assuming a definite shape. Barney thought it was a plane, but Betty looking at it through binoculars wasn’t so sure, something about its appearance was unusual.

Now fully awake they slowed the car, while the UFO, as if playing a game, began to repeatedly approach then withdraw.

About a mile beyond Mount Pemigewasset and the rock formation called Indian Head the object abruptly changed its tactics; it came to a stop after zooming over the Hill’s car and hovered above the road just ahead.

Barney braked and then exited the car in order to get a better look. Using binoculars he observed a pancake shaped vehicle complete with windows behind which a number of humanoid crew members were apparently watching him. Suddenly afraid and feeling a need to escape, he re-entered the car and left the area hurriedly tires squealing as they grabbed for purchase on the grey asphalt.

As the automobile accelerated a strange beeping or buzzing sound was heard coming from its rear end, a noise so severe it caused the vehicle’s frame to vibrate 
before eventually subsiding. At this point the Hills reported feeling drowsy, their minds entering some kind of altered state. Within a few miles the buzzing noise sounded again bringing the couple back to normalcy. The remainder of their trip home was uneventful.

After a couple of days Betty contacted Pease Air Force Base and reported their close encounter. The following day she received a return call from Major Paul Henderson who after a brief interview determined they had probably mistaken the planet Jupiter for a UFO. He then referred the entire matter to Project Blue Book.

Not satisfied Betty decided to do a little research on her own. A visit to the local library revealed several books on the subject, one of which was written by retired Major Donald Keyhoe head of a civilian UFO group called NICAP.

Shortly thereafter Betty began having a recurring nightmare in which she and Barney were forcibly taken into the spacecraft and then medically examined by its alien crew.

Deeply troubled and wishing answers she wrote to Keyhoe, laid out the details of their misadventure and further stated she and her husband were considering hypnotic regression in order to fill in the blanks in their memories.

The result was a six hour interview with astronomer and NICAP member Walter Webb on October 21, 1961. Webb was skeptical about the abduction, eventually coming to the conclusion that the nightmares were simply a panicky reaction to the sighting of an unidentified flying object, perfectly normal when one takes into consideration that the alleged encounter happened far from help on a deserted highway in the dead of night.  

Betty was still unconvinced, however, and in late November decided to begin writing down as much of her dreams as she could remember. It was difficult at first, the nightmares a jumble of confused fragmented images which she slowly pieced together.

There were disturbing memories of herself and Barney walking in a trance like state through a dark and gloomy forest before being taken into a spacecraft by small humanoid like creatures. Inside, despite protestations, she was separated from her husband, taken to another room and subjected to a lengthy and sometimes painful medical examination by an alien she presumed was a doctor.

After the exam’s conclusion, she entered into discussion with another crewman who appeared to be the leader and requested an item to take back as proof of contact. Acquiescing he gave her a large book filled with symbols.

Curious, Betty then asked who the aliens were and where they had come from. By way of reply the leader pulled down a map on which were dots representing stars and star systems connected by differing types of lines signifying exploration and trade routes. The leader brushed aside her questions about the extraterrestrial’s home world, with the explanation that because she lacked even the most basic understanding of astronomy it was impossible for him to answer. The conversation was abruptly terminated with the arrival of a rather disheveled and bemused Barney escorted by two of the small humanoids.

The pair were then led back through the ship and out to their car, where, after a heated discussion with the other humanoids, the leader removed the book from a protesting Betty, saying it had been decided that she shouldn’t be allowed to retain any physical evidence and in fact even the couples memories were to be erased.

Betty believed the dreams were a subconscious recollection of real events, on the other hand a skeptical Barney dismissed them as nonsense the result of an overactive imagination.

A second meeting between the Hills and NICAP revealed a few things that until then had been overlooked: Their trip took approximately two hours longer than it should have, and though the couple remembered most parts of their journey the stretch between Indian Head and the small community of Ashland was almost a complete blank.

Facing increasing anxiety the Hills visited two different psychiatrists in an effort to resolve the issue, all to no avail. Finally they met with Dr. Benjamin Simon on December 14, 1963, who although dubious about the encounter agreed to hypnotize them.

The couple were hypnotized separately, Barney first, and for someone who had maintained all along that the abduction had never happened and was a figment of his wife’s imagination the results were startling. The sessions were emotional, punctuated with hysterical outbursts and crying fits. In one of his more lucid moments Barney remembered jumping into the car and trying to escape the UFO, only to be forced to a stop by diminutive manlike creatures with bulbous heads and large eyes who surrounded him and Betty before escorting them into the woods and the waiting spacecraft.

Inside the ship he was separated from his wife and then subjected to an extensive medical exam. Though his eyes were closed during most of the procedure, he did remember the aliens talking to each other in an unintelligible language, when they talked to him directly
, however, he could understand perfectly. He remembered leaving the ship, being escorted along with Betty to the car and watching the spacecraft take to the sky then accelerate away in a great burst of speed. Later he also recalled seeing a light appear in the road ahead and saying to Betty “Oh no, not again.”

Under hypnosis Betty’s retelling of events were far less emotional than her husbands and with only a few variations much the same as her dream. Afterward, following some prompting from Dr. Simon, she drew the map that later (with some modifications) would become known as the Zeta Reticuli star map. [1]

Dr. Simon later concluded that Barney’s recollection of events was simply a manifestation engendered by constant exposure to his wife’s dreams. Barney for his part was no longer as skeptical, giving greater credence to the possibility that he and his wife might actually have been the victims of a real life alien abduction.

Whether hypnotic regression revealed any great truths is perhaps not the major issue, as far as the Hills were concerned, especially Barney, it was cathartic; it banished the devils that had tormented them for so long, the nightmares ceased, the anxiety faded away.

If they thought they could put it behind them, however, they were sadly mistaken. In 1965 their story was leaked to the media, and they found themselves much to Barney’s dismay and Betty’s delight, minor celebrities, with newspaper and magazine articles, books, documentaries, a television series and even a made for television movie all of which either questioned or extolled their out of this world experience.

Barney passed away on February 25, 1969, of a cerebral hemorrhage, while Betty, perhaps as a way of dealing with the tragedy but also because she was now intrigued with the whole concept of alien visitors, went on to become an active part of the UFO community, investigating a number of sightings and allegedly viewing several of her own before succumbing to lung cancer on October 17, 2004.

[1] In 1968 Marjorie Fish an Ohio school teacher, member of American Mensa and amateur astronomer, decided to try and match the star map drawn by Betty Hill to known star charts and eventually came up with what she decided was a close approximation (although many such as noted astronomer Carl Sagan and research associate Steven Soter disagreed). Her eventual conclusion, the home world of the aliens might orbit a star called Zeta 2 Reticuli part of a binary system approximately 39 light years from Earth.

[b] In a strange coincidence Zeta 2 Reticuli is not only the home sun of Bob Lazar’s (of Area 51 fame) Grays (Greys), but also the star around which astronomers Cochran and Hatzes discovered a planet orbiting on September 20, 1996, a brief lived discovery that was removed from the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia website after only four days with the explanation that it was a mistake.

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