Barney and Betty Hill were an American couple who claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural portion of the state of New Hampshire from September 19 to 20, 1961.
The incident came to be called the “Hill Abduction” and the “Zeta Reticuli Incident” because two ufologists connected the star map shown to Betty Hill with the Zeta Reticuli system. Their story was adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television film The UFO Incident.
According to a variety of reports given by the Hills, the alleged UFO sighting happened about 10:30 p.m. September 19, 1961. The Hills were driving back to Portsmouth from a vacation in Niagara Falls and Montreal. 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.
Because 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.
Betty, looking through binoculars, observed an “odd-shaped” craft flashing multicolored lights travel across the face of the Moon. Because her sister had several years earlier said she had seen a flying saucer, 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.”
The Hills said they continued driving on the quiet and 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 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.
About one mile south of Indian Head, they said, the object rapidly descended toward their vehicle, causing Barney to stop in the middle of the highway. The huge, silent craft hovered about 80 to 100 feet (24 to 30 m) above the Hills’ 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and filled the entire field of view in 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 eight to eleven 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 to 80 feet (15 to 24 m) overhead and 300 feet (91 m) away from him. On Oct. 21, 1961, Barney reported to National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) investigator Walter Webb that the “beings were somehow not human.”