- Please note: this article on the Betty & Barney Hill case attempts to discuss the incident without debunking. Please make a new page for skepticism and debunking claims, if desired, separate from this page.
Barney and Betty Hill were an American couple who were allegedly abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural portion of New Hampshire from September 19 to 20, 1961.
The alleged UFO sighting happened on September 19, 1961, around 10:30 p.m. The Hills were driving back to Portsmouth from a vacation in Niagara Falls and Montreal. There were only a few other cars on the road. Just south of Lancaster, New Hampshire, Betty claimed to have observed a bright point of light in the sky that moved from below the moon and the planet Jupiter, upward to the west of the moon. While Barney navigated U.S. Route 3, Betty reasoned that she was observing a falling star, only it moved upward. Since it moved erratically and grew bigger and brighter, Betty urged Barney to stop the car for a closer look, as well as to walk their dog, Delsey. Barney stopped at a scenic picnic area just south of Twin Mountain. Worried about the presence of bears, Barney retrieved a pistol that he kept in the trunk of the car.
Betty, through binoculars, observed an "odd-shaped" craft flashing multi-colored lights travel across the face of the moon. Because her sister had confided to her about having a flying saucer sighting several years earlier, Betty thought it might be what she was observing. Through binoculars Barney observed what he reasoned was a commercial airliner traveling toward Vermont on its way to Montreal. However, he soon changed his mind, because without looking as if it had turned, the craft rapidly descended in his direction. This observation caused Barney to realize, "this object that was a plane was not a plane." He quickly returned to the car and drove toward Franconia Notch, a narrow, mountainous stretch of the road.
The Hills claimed that they continued driving on the isolated road, moving very slowly through Franconia Notch in order to observe the object as it came even closer. At one point, the object passed above a restaurant and signal tower on top of Cannon Mountain. It passed over the mountain and came out near the Old Man of the Mountain. Betty testified that it was at least one and a half times the length of the granite cliff profile, which was 40 feet (12 m) long, and that it seemed to be rotating. The couple watched as the silent, illuminated craft moved erratically and bounced back and forth in the night sky.
Approximately one mile south of Indian Head, they said, the object rapidly descended toward their vehicle, causing Barney to stop directly in the middle of the highway. The huge, silent craft hovered approximately 80–100 feet (24–30 m) above the Hills' 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and filled the entire field of the windshield. It reminded Barney of a huge pancake. Carrying his pistol in his pocket, he stepped away from the vehicle and moved closer to the object. Using the binoculars, Barney claimed to have seen about 8 to 11 humanoid figures who were peering out of the craft's windows, seeming to look at him. In unison, all but one figure moved to what appeared to be a panel on the rear wall of the hallway that encircled the front portion of the craft. The one remaining figure continued to look at Barney and communicated a message telling him to "stay where you are and keep looking." Barney had a recollection of observing the humanoid forms wearing glossy black uniforms and black caps. Red lights on what appeared to be bat-wing fins began to telescope out of the sides of the craft, and a long structure descended from the bottom of the craft. The silent craft approached to what Barney estimated was within 50–80 feet (15–24 m) overhead and 300 feet (91 m) away from him. On October 21, 1961, Barney reported to NICAP Investigator Walter Webb that the "beings were somehow not human".
Barney "tore" the binoculars away from his eyes and ran back to his car. In a near hysterical state, he told Betty, "They're going to capture us!" He saw the object again shift its location to directly above the vehicle. He drove away at high speed, telling Betty to look for the object. She rolled down the window and looked up. Almost immediately, the Hills heard a rhythmic series of beeping or buzzing sounds which they said seemed to bounce off the trunk of their vehicle. The car vibrated and a tingling sensation passed through the Hills' bodies. The Hills said that at this point in time they experienced the onset of an altered state of consciousness that left their minds dulled. A second series of beeping or buzzing sounds returned the couple to full consciousness. They found that they had traveled nearly 35 miles (56 km) south but had only vague, spotty memories of this section of road. They recalled making a sudden unplanned turn, encountering a roadblock, and observing a fiery orb in the road.
Arriving home at about dawn, the Hills assert that they had some odd sensations and impulses they could not readily explain: Betty insisted their luggage be kept near the back door rather than in the main part of the house. Their watches would never run again. Barney said that the leather strap for the binoculars was torn, though he could not recall it tearing. The toes of his best dress shoes were scraped. Barney says he was compelled to examine his genitals in the bathroom, though he found nothing unusual. They took long showers to remove possible contamination and each drew a picture of what they had observed.
Perplexed, the Hills say they tried to reconstruct the chronology of events as they witnessed the UFO and drove home. But immediately after they heard the buzzing sounds, their memories became incomplete and fragmented. After sleeping for a few hours, Betty awoke and placed the shoes and clothing she had worn during the drive into her closet, observing that the dress was torn at the hem, zipper and lining. Later, when she retrieved the items from her closet, she noted a pinkish powder on her dress. She hung the dress on her clothesline and the pink powder blew away. But the dress was irreparably damaged. She threw it away, but then changed her mind, retrieving the dress and hanging it in her closet. Over the years, five laboratories have conducted chemical and forensic analyses on the dress.
There were shiny, concentric circles on their car's trunk that had not been there the previous day. Betty and Barney experimented with a compass, noting that when they moved it close to the spots, the needle would whirl rapidly. But when they moved it a few inches away from the shiny spots, it would drop down.
- Friedman, Stanton & Kathleen Marden. Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2007.
- Webb, Walter. "A Dramatic UFO Encounter in the White Mountains, NH". Confidential report to NICAP. October 26, 1961.