The case of Betty and Barney Hill has become the prototype for the "interrupted journey," the classic case of humans abducted and examined by aliens from another world. Their story was covered extensively by John G. Fuller in the book Interrupted Journey (1966), and there was even a made-for-television movie (1975) with James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons playing Barney and Betty.
On September 19, 1961, Betty, a social worker, and Barney, a mail carrier, then in their 40s, were returning to their home in New Hampshire from a short Canadian vacation when they noticed a bright object in the night sky. Barney stopped the car and used a pair of binoculars to get a better look at it. As he studied the object, its own illumination showed a well-defined disklike shape, moving in an irregular pattern across the moonlit sky.
Fascinated, Barney walked into a nearby field where from that perspective he could perceive what appeared to be windows—and, in the windows, beings—looking back at him. The feeling that he was being watched frightened Barney, and he ran back to the car, got in, and began to race down the road. Then, as if obeying some internal directive, he drove down a side road—where the Hills found five humanoid aliens standing in their path. Suddenly unable to control their movements, Betty and Barney were taken from their car and, in a trancelike condition, led to the UFO by the humanoids.
The sensational details of the Hills' story were recalled later while under hypnosis, for the couple had a complete loss of memory concerning the nearly two hours that they were abducted by the UFOnauts. According to information later retrieved under hypnosis, Betty and Barney were returned unharmed to their car with the mental command that they would forget all about their abduction experience. The UFO then rose into the air and disappeared from sight, leaving the Hills to continue their journey home, oblivious to the whole event.
Perhaps the remarkable encounter would never have been brought to light except for two factors: they began to experience strange and disconcerting dreams that they could not understand, and they could not explain the unaccountable two missing hours in their journey home from Canada.
Betty decided to seek the help of a psychiatrist friend, who suggested that the memory of those lost hours would return in time, perhaps in only a few months. But the details of that unexplained "interruption" remained in a troubled limbo of fragmented memories until the Hills began weekly hypnosis sessions with Dr. Benjamin Simon, a Boston psychiatrist.
Under Simon's guidance, the couple revealed an astonishing pastiche of bizarre physical and mental examinations at the hands of an extraordinary group of extraterrestrial medical technicians. The individual accounts of Betty and Barney agreed in most respects, although neither was made aware of what the other had disclosed until later. In essence, both told of being treated by aliens from space in much the same manner as human scientists might examine laboratory
Much has been made of the Hills alien medical examinations, and their much-publicized experience may have provided the prototype for thousands of other individuals who have claimed alien abductions with their requisite physical and sexual exams. However, the single aspect that may be most essential in giving the Hills' story credibility is the star map that Betty said she was shown by the extraterrestrials while on board the UFO.
Under hypnosis in 1964, three years after their alleged alien abduction, Betty, with little or no understanding of astronomy, drew her impressions of the map with a remarkable expertise that concurred with other, professionally drawn, star maps. As an important bonus, Betty's map showed the location of two stars called Zeta I and Zeta II Reticuli, allegedly the home base of the space travelers who abducted them. Interestingly, the existence of the two stars was not confirmed by astronomers until 1969—eight years after the Hills' abduction experience and five years after Betty remembered seeing the star map aboard an alien spaceship. As an added bit of data to support Betty Hill's claim that her recollection of the map was an actual memory of having been shown an artifact created by an extraterrestrial intelligence, the two fifth-magnitude stars, Zeta I and Zeta II Reticuli, are invisible to observers north of the latitude of Mexico City.