On July 20, 2011, the State of New Hampshire erected a historical marker to commemorate the September 19-20, 1961 close encounter of Portsmouth residents Betty and Barney Hill. There is more detail at the end of the post...but first, let's look back at the case that brought alien abduction, lost time and bizarre humanoids to the forefront:
Date: September 19, 1961
Location: Exeter, New Hampshire, United States
New Hampshire is a marvelous and mysterious place. In the southern part of the state is North Salem, near which lies Mystery Hill, "America's Stonehenge", a collection of stone structures with a mysterious origin. Also in the south, near New Hampshire's small strip of coastline, is Exeter, the site of a large number of UFO sightings in 1965.
In the eastern central part of the state is Ossipee Lake, an area sacred to the Indians. In 1800, an Indian burial ground was discovered in the area that contained over ten thousand bodies arranged in concentric circles. There are numerous "kettle" lakes in the area that were carved out by glaciers during the ice ages, and the area is ringed by ancient volcanoes. Some of the ponds are considered bottomless and may be connected to each other by volcanic vents. It is said that UFOs have been seen plunging into these deep ponds.
Further north and in the center of New Hampshire lies the White Mountains National Forest. In the summer, the area is filled with vacationers and campers and hikers and fishermen. There are various sights to see, such as the Flume, The Old Man of the Mountain, Mount Washington, and Indian Head. In the winter, skiers flock to the slopes and hunters to the forests. But during the in-between times, the early fall and the early spring, the area is quiet, resting.
It probably wasn't easy having a mixed marriage in 1961, even in liberal New Hampshire, but the Hills seemed to have adjusted well. Betty Hill was a white social worker, and Barney Hill was a black postal employee. Barney was working in Boston, commuting back and forth daily from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the couple lived. Barney had developed an ulcer, perhaps from stress at work, and when the opportunity came for a few days' vacation, he took it. Betty was able to schedule her vacation for the same time, so they decided to go to Canada. They took their little dachsund, Delsey, with them, staying in motels that would allow the dog in their room.
They went to Niagara Falls and to Montreal, and on September 19th, they were on their way back home to Portsmouth. They stopped in Colebrook for a burger and then wound on down Highway 3 through Lancaster.
|Artist's impression of the object encountered by Betty and Barney Hill. (credit: Brookesmith)|
At about 10:15PM, just south of Lancaster, Barney noticed a light in the sky below the moon, and called Betty's attention to it. At first they thought it was a planet, but then they noticed it was moving. Barney began trying to convince himself that it was only a satellite or a plane, becoming more and more agitated at anything that contradicted this view. Betty, whose sister had seen a UFO, was convinced from the start that the light in the sky was something unusual. They stopped the car to let Delsey do her business, and observed the object with a pair of binoculars they had.
By the time they reached the Flume, north of North Woodstock, the object had grown in size and Barney noticed that it had an unusual motion in that it would dart away to the west and then back, closer each time. At Indian Head, Barney stopped the car again and looked at the object with the binoculars. He could now see multi-colored lights and rows of windows on the pancake-shaped object, which was huge and was only a hundred feet away. He walked closer to the craft, and could see occupants standing inside, one of which he said seemed to be the "leader". He became very frightened and ran back to the car, where Betty was waiting. He started the car and took off quickly. They could no longer see the object, but they heard a beeping noise.
Sometime later, they heard the beeping noise again, and noticed that they were thirty-five miles south of Indian Head, at Ashland. They drove on home to Portsmouth without further incident.
They slept until afternoon, and when they awoke, Betty called her sister Janet and told her about their experience. Janet urged her to report the UFO sighting to nearby Pease Air Force Base. Over Barney's objections, Betty called the base and gave a report to Major Paul W. Henderson of the 100th Bomb Wing. When asked to do so by the Major, Barney reluctantly gave his version of the sighting. Curiously, Pease AFB was the home of the 509th Bomb Wing in 1961, the same 509th Bomb Wing whose home had been Roswell AAFB at the time of the "Roswell Incident" in 1947. According to Jacques Vallee in Dimensions, the Hills' sighting was corroborated by a radar sighting at Pease AFB on 20 September 1961, but his reference for this is unclear. It's an excerpt from Report No. 100-1-61, that says simply:
...a strange incident occurred at 0214 local on 20 Sept. No importance was attached to the incident at the time.
|The sketch by Barney Hill, showing the craft with figures, "fins" and red lights.|
After reporting the incident, Barney preferred to forget about the event, but Betty went to the library to look up books on UFOs. She found Major Donald Kehoe's The Flying Saucer Conspiracy and read it avidly. She even wrote Kehoe a letter detailing their sighting. A few days later, ten days after their sighting, Betty began to have a series of nightmares that lasted five days and then stopped. The nightmares involved she and Barney being stopped at a road block and then being taken inside some large craft. At the urging of a friend, Betty wrote down the dreams.
Meanwhile, Betty's letter to Kehoe had been passed to Walter Webb, a lecturer on the staff of the Hayden Planetarium in Boston. Webb was a scientific advisor for NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon), Kehoe's UFO organization. Webb was asked to interview the Hills. He drove up to Portsmouth and spent several hours interviewing them. He was much impressed with their sincerity and with the detail they provided, and he wrote a long report for NICAP.
After talking to Keyhoe, and after reading Webb's report, two technical writers who were interested in UFOs, Robert Hohman and C.D. Jackson, made arrangements to interview the Hills in November. It was during this interview that one of the writers asked a key question: Why had it taken the Hills so long to get home? Calculating the time and the mileage from Colebrook to Portsmouth showed that they should have gotten home two hours sooner than they did, even allowing for stops. Also present at this interview was Major James MacDonald, a former Air Force Intelligence officer and close friend of the Hills. It was he who first suggested hypnosis to recover their memory of the missing time period.
In March of 1962, they spoke to a psychiatrist about hypnosis, but decided to put it off until a later date. That summer, Barney's ulcers returned, and his recurring hypertention returned. Feeling that his problems were emotional in origin, he began therapy with a psychiatrist in Exeter, Dr. Stephens. He continued this therapy through the next year, but the UFO sighting was not explored as part of this treatment at first. But, not long after Betty and Barney had been asked to speak to a church group about their sighting, Dr. Stephens decided that the sighting was important. He also decided that hypnosis was needed to help Barney deal with the incident. Not being proficient in hypnosis himself, he referred Barney to Dr. Benjamin Simon, a well-known Boston psychiatrist and neurologist.
Dr. Simon quickly determined that he should treat both Betty and Barney for an anxiety syndrome that could be traced back to the incident on the night of September 19-20, 1961. He began by hypnotizing Barney, then Betty. Over the next six months, the story of the two hours of missing time began to emerge. Betty and Barney Hill told of being stopped at a roadblock and being taken onto the UFO, where they were given medical examinations before being returned to their car. Betty reported being shown a "star map" that was later interpreted to mean that the aliens came from Zeta Reticuli. Their story was later written into a two-part article in Look magazine, a book titled The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, and later a TV movie called The UFO Incident starring Estelle Parsons and James Earl Jones as the Hills.
The Hill's story was the first "modern" abduction story. There was no Communion back in 1961, and no X-Files. Abduction stories had not become part of the popular culture yet. People had claimed to have contact with aliens, but they were "contactees" in the mold of George Adamski, who claimed to have been visited by friendly Venusians with long blond hair who gave him a warning for all mankind about nuclear war. Skeptics such as Martin S. Kottmeyer claim that the elements of the Hill abduction could be found in movies like 1953's Invaders From Mars and in the pulp science fiction magazines. They also say that an alien with wrap-around eyes such as Barney Hill described was portrayed on an episode of Outer Limits just 12 days before the hypnotic session during which he described the aliens. These claims might be compelling if it had ever been proven that Betty and Barney had seen the movie or the Outer Limits episode or that they were science fiction fans. But investigators such as Karl Pflock say that there is no evidence that they had been exposed to any of those things. Skeptics also point out that Betty's nightmares began after she read Keyhoe's book. That's true, but Barney had not read Kehoe's book when he saw the UFO with double rows of windows with "people" behind them on the night of the sighting.
Even if the dreams and the hypnotically recalled "abduction" are excluded for whatever reason, the sighting itself still stands as one of the most reliable and inexplicable on record.
Dr. Simon, the psychiatrist who worked through the post-traumatic stress of the incident with the Hills, did not believe that they were lying. He was unable to explain the sighting as anything other than an actual occurrence, and stated as much in a letter to the insurance company regarding the case. However, he did not believe that the abduction took place. His final diagnosis was that Betty's mind had created dreams of an abduction to fill the amnesia period, and that Barney's mind, when he heard the content of her dreams, had unconsciously absorbed her dreams for the same purpose of filling the missing time period. None of this, of course, explains exactly what DID happen and why it took the Hills two hours longer than normal to drive from Colebrook to Ashland. - Loy Lawhon, About.com
Preliminary: Driving home to Portsmouth, NH, from a vacation trip at about 11:00 P.M., they saw a star like object approaching them on an erratic course; it looked like a craft. Through binoculars Barney saw beings in it looking at him. He fled to the car and they sped away They experienced a time lapse.
Initial activities: Under hypnosis details of an encounter emerged; six or more humanoid beings approached their car after they turned off into a wooded area, and they were escorted up a ramp and on board the craft.
Craft/Beings: Disc-shaped with windows, a half-dozen uniformed beings visible inside. Beings were 5 ft. to 5 ft. 4 in. (1.5-1.6 m) tall, and had broad foreheads, round faces tapered toward the chin, dark cat like eyes that extended around to the side of the head, small mouths, small noses, grayish skin, dark clothing.
Onboard features: Curved corridor around the circumference of the craft. Witnesses taken into wedge-shaped rooms. Metallic and white examining rooms illuminated by bluish fluorescence, with tables and various equipment, instruments, storage compartments.
Onboard activities: First Betty and then Barney was extensively examined.
Communication: When communicating among themselves, the beings made a mumbling or humming sound. Only the leader and the examiner communicated with them. Betty (apparently via telepathy) was told that she should not be afraid; they only wanted to conduct some tests and would return them to the car. Later they asked her about concepts of aging and measures of time.
Termination/Return: Two men escorted Barney to the exit, his eyes still closed. Barney walked down the ramp, opened his eyes, and saw the car. He got inside and sat waiting for Betty. The leader escorted Betty partway to the car. After the craft took off, she got back in the car and Barney drove off.
Aftermath: Both felt numb and confused and had memory gaps. They reached home about 5:00 A.M., two hours later than expected. Barney found the tops of his shoes scuffed, and burrs in his cuffs and socks. Ten days later Betty had vivid nightmares about the experience. Barney had a vague dream about a roadblock, later had physical problems. Eventually they sought help and were referred for psychological counseling. When the full story emerged under hypnosis, the case became one of the most celebrated UFO incidents of all time. - Volume II, "The UFO Evidence, A Thirty Year Report", Richard H. Hall
|Top: Barney Hill, under hypnosis, drew the above (top) sketch of the "leader" of the alleged abductors. Bottom: Two sketches by David Baker are based on two interviews Baker had with Barney, one under hypnosis. (credit: NICAP 1972)|
In October 1967, shortly after he had made his original sketches of the Hill occupants, David Baker wrote Betty and Barney Hill to explain why he had depicted the features of the faces the way he did. The following are his comments, published here for the first time, as taken from that letter.
With my knowledge of anatomy I am endeavoring to put your detailed facial descriptions into a possible anatomical arrangement following known laws of bone structure.
1. Eyes, slanted, rounding sides of face indicating peripheral vision. Anatomy for such eyes would indicate bone structure to protect such enlarged eyeballs, also would extend cheek bones around curve of front facial plane, giving a look to eyes of not so much oriental as like a cat's eyes.
2. Wide cheeked, weak chinned, Mongoloid suggestion to face. Such extended cheek bones could minimize nose, mouth and chin area of face by association or contrast.
3. Large head. If the head cavity held such enlarged eyeballs, a space for a more normal sized brain area could be gained by an enlargement of back or top of head, giving a larger than normal appearing skull area.
4. Immobility of mouth muscle control could give an impression of not registering usual emotions of sadness or joy. You noted, I recall, with great concern, the simulated effort we demonstrated of mouth immobility by pulling a tight silk stocking over face. Lips were pressed close to teeth line, neutralizing all usual lip fullness and character. In fact, the stocking trick gave Mongoloid expression to all bound features.
5. Membrane over mouth-opening when it was opened slightly with no spoken words heard only grunts. Is it possible a membrane, for protective or other reasons, restricted all normal face movements or even sheathed body of entity?
6. Nostrils prominent and heavy breathing noticed, also lack of nose cartilage. Even a tight mask could not hide but could minimize nose cartilage, but could press back tip of nose and expose nostrils. No membrane over nostrils was noted so assume breathing was all done there. Breathing could become labored if mouth aperture was sealed from outside air.
7. Whites of eyes of yellowish cast. Could be caused by tonality of mask or membrane.
8. Blinking of eyes was not apparent Small pupils were. If membrane held eyes open, an effect of smaller pupils could be noticeable, if whites of eyes were bared. Membrane could keep air and impurities out of eyes, making blinking, to relubricate orbs, unnecessary.
9. Lack of ears, only ear holes and lack of hair. Tight membrane could restrict ear cartilage and also hair, producing a rounder, balder appearing. head. To theorize presence of a tight, colorless membrane, let's assume it could be for clinical or climatic reasons. Many other conjectures could here be explored.
10. Color of "men's" faces were 1) yellowish, 2) aluminum grey. A blue lighted interior (of the vehicle), as described by you, could accentuate a complementary tone or yellowishness to faces.
11. The following missing details could complete picture: 1) Were hand - sheathed with a membrane that would have minimized finger and finger nail details? 2) What textures in the faces were obvious as masculine or feminine?
THE ZETA RETICULI INCIDENT
A faint pair of stars, 220 trillion miles away, has been tentatively identified as the "home base" of intelligent extraterrestrials who allegedly visited Earth in 1961. This hypothesis is based on a strange, almost bizarre series of events mixing astronomical research with hypnosis, amnesia, and alien humanoid creatures.
The two stars are known as Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli, or together as simply Zeta Reticuli. They are each fifth magnitude stars -- barely visible to the unaided eye -- located in the obscure souther constellation Reticulum. This southerly sky location makes Zeta Reticuli invisible to observers north of Mexico City's latitude.
The weird circumstances that we have dubbed "The Zeta Reticuli Incident" sound like they come straight from the UFO pages in one of those tabloids sold in every supermarket. But this is much more than a retelling of a famous UFO incident; it's an astronomical detective story that at times hovers on that hazy line that separates science from fiction. It all started this way:
The date is Sept. 19, 1961. A middle aged New Hampshire couple, Betty and Barney Hill, are driving home from a short vacation in Canada. It's dark, with the moon and stars illuminating the wooded landscape along U.S. Route 3 in central New Hampshire. The Hills' curiosity is aroused when a bright "star" seems to move in an irregular pattern. They stop the car for a better view. The object moves closer, and its disklike shape becomes evident.
Barney grabs his binoculars from the car seat and steps out. He walks into a field to get a closer look, focuses the binoculars, and sees the object plainly. It has windows -- and behind the windows, looking directly at him are...humanoid creatures! Terrified, Barney stumbles back to the car, throws it into first gear and roars off. But for some reason he turns down a side road where five of the humanoids are standing on the road.
Apparently unable to control their actions, Betty and Barney are easily taken back to the ship by the humanoids. While inside they are physically examined, and one of the humanoids communicates to Betty. After the examination she asks him where they are from. In response he shows her a three-dimensional map with various sized dots and lines on it. "Where are you on the map?" the humanoid asks Betty. She doesn't know, so the subject is dropped.
Betty and Barney are returned unharmed to their car. They are told they will forget the abduction portion of the incident. The ship rises, and then hurtles out of sight. The couple continue their journey home oblivious of the abduction.
But the Hills are troubled by unexplained dreams and anxiety about two hours of their trip that they can't account for. Betty, a social worker, asks advice from a psychiatrist friend. He suggests that the memory of that time will be gradually restored over the next few months -- but it never is. Two years after the incident, the couple are still bothered by the missing two hours, and Barney's ulcers are acting up. A Boston psychiatrist, Benjamin Simon, is recommended, and after several months of weekly hypnosis sessions the bizarre events of that night in 1961 are revealed. A short time later a UFO group leaks a distorted version of the story to the press and the whole thing blows up. The Hills reluctantly disclose the entire story. - Continue reading the details of the study at THE ZETA RETICULI INCIDENT - by Terence Dickinson - with related commentary by: Jeffrey L. Kretsch, Carl Sagan, Steven Soter, Robert Sheaffer, Marjorie Fish, David Saunders & Michael Peck. Astronomy, December, 1974
On July 20, 2011, the State of New Hampshire erected a historical marker to commemorate the September 19-20, 1961 close encounter of Portsmouth residents Betty and Barney Hill. The marker is located next to the highway in front of Cabin #20 at the Indian Head Resort in North Lincoln and across the street from the granite stone face called Indian Head.
Several years ago, Mike Stevens, a Farmington, NH, man circulated a petition to request a marker to commemorate Betty and Barney Hills’ UFO experience. The final wording approved by the state agency reads as follows:
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.
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