BETTY HILL and her husband Barney were apparently abducted by the occupants of a UFO in September 1961. The event became the template for the ever more elaborate abduction claims that we hear today. But they don't impress Betty Hill, as PETER BROOKESMITH discovered when he visited her at home in New Hampshire.

I'd heard about Betty's acerbic opinions of the modern abduction phenomenon on the ufological grapevine. Naturally I wondered how far and in what ways we might agree. We talked a lot about cats (it seemed as if about 15 condescend to frequent her house, but she insisted there were only five) and politics and her own abduction. But her less than dewy-eyed approach to most of today's abduction claims will probably surprise people more.
Those who promote the abduction phenomenon or, by their silence, do nothing to temper its excesses, do not amuse her though she chuckles a lot as she talks and never loses an opportunity to make a lightning-fast wisecrack.

In 1995 she published A Common Sense Approach to UFOs, which tells of her long involvement in UFO and abduction investigation. "I have the feeling that most UFO organizations dislike my book," she wrote to me before we met. "None of them have reviewed it."

You must feel a certain amount of chagrin that this phenomenon has gone the way it has.

I try very hard not to have guilt feelings about the way stupid people have misinterpreted my experience. The reason I wrote this book was to try to get across to people that they should stay away from hypnosis. Don't let anybody fool around in your brain. I mean, you have problems enough to live with yourself, without other people making their contribution.

The whole problem now is the lack of understanding of hypnosis. The first stage of hypnosis is one of suggestibility. It's supposed to be useful to have a person lose weight, or help them cut down on smoking, or something like that. But if you say to a person, 'You murdered someone!' in the first stage of hypnosis, they're going to spend the rest of their lives looking for the body. And the same too, when somebody goes in for hypnosis for a UFO abduction, they're going to get it (chuckles).In the last 10 years, the whole thing's been destroyed. Because a person thinks they've been abducted, the first thing they say is 'Oh! You've got to have hypnosis.' And that destroys the whole thing. You don't know if they were or they weren't. Somebody says to me, 'I think I've been abducted', the first thing I say is, 'Well, if you've had hypnosis, goodbye. And if you're thinking of having hypnosis, goodbye.'Barney and I had medical hypnosis. It's used in surgery. The TV program 48 Hours showed a woman having major abdominal surgery with medical hypnosis. Nothing else. Just medical hypnosis. The person has absolutely no control. You can't move, you can''t speak, you can't do anything until the doctor gives permission. Well, medical hypnosis is almost unknown in this country. They do it in the Soviet Union. I've talked to a psychiatrist who uses it up in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I can do hypnosis, and I can give you an abduction in 20 minutes. Sure I could. You can do it to anybody. See, what they use for hypnosis for abductions now is what we call 'flight of fantasy'. I do it with whole groups. Put someone in a light trance, and give them the choice. You can go aboard a UFO, you can go back to a past life, you can take a quick trip around the galaxy, or you can go into the future. Ninety seven per cent will go back to a past life!

So you would trust an abduction account that came from medical hypnosis, but not one that comes from a lighter form of the technique the kind people like Hopkins and Jacobs and Mack use?

When people tell weird tales hallucinations, delusions, fantasy, dreams, something they've seen, heard or read when you rule out all of those, then you may have reality. And in working with people for years people would call me, particularly after they saw my movie, The UFO Incident, and say, 'I think I've been abducted.' And I'd say, 'Well, you know, we really don't know.' And I worked with these people, and we were able to pinpoint why they thought they'd been abducted when they had not been. As a result of this I was able to develop criteria to establish the real abductions from the fantasies. In this country, they say 3 million people have been abducted. Not once, but continuously. D'you realize that means three or four thousand people every night are bring abducted? In this country alone? I don't know how the planes get through.

Most abduction researchers and their supporters say that what they find must be real, because it's consistent from witness to witness.

Of course it's real to them because they tell `em the same thing! You know those therapy groups? A woman called me. She quit. She said she got fed up. That therapy group it ends up in "I'll show you the kind of sex I had on board the UFO if you show me the kind of sex you had on board the UFO." No matter what the subject is it's "Me Too!" I call `em the Me-Too People. Whereas every real abduction has been totally different. There are no duplications. Actually, the real abductions, you've never heard of. Because nobody's writing any books about `em. Most people who've been really abducted, have the same attitude Barney and I did. It was our experience and it was nobody else's business. But then we got the publicity. But they have the same feeling. It's something between them, and the UFOs.

You get the feeling when you read Budd Hopkins's books.

I don't!

...that there's one kind of story that his subjects are telling, then in David Jacobs's book

never read his books either.

...his people's stories follow another pattern, and John Mack's are different yet again. There's a similarity among the stories told to each investigator, but the stories are different from one investigator to another. Seems to me the investigators must be influencing what they hear.


If the kind of hypnosis that's used is producing fantasies, why do you think people are having those particular fantasies?

Because the investigators are directing them to have those fantasies.They're suggesting them to them. They're very, very destructive people. They don't care who they hurt to make people buy a book, to make some money.Okay I've been having contacts with this girl. Ten years old, she's on vacation with her parents, and she goes for a walk in the woods. And she's late getting back. Her parents are yelling to her, her brother's yelling to her, and they're saying, "Where have you been? We were ready to call out the police." But she was just taking a walk in the woods.

What do you think of the apocalypse that so many of Mack's subjects foresee?

Well, we're all going to die. The world is going to come to an end the day we die, individually, for each one of us. Of course it goes on without us. The world's not going to come to an end. Good grief.

Years later, she wondered: Did I get abducted by a UFO? Even though she didn't see any UFOs. So she goes down and visits [a famous abduction researcher] for nine days. And during the nine days, she has all these abductees come in and tell her in great detail what happened to them on board the craft. And then he gave her hypnosis. Five tapes of abductions, beginning when she was three years old.

What about Mack's subjects who say they've been reincarnated?

Well... I don't believe in reincarnation! [chuckles] See, I think I have a bigger problem. I don't think I believe in life after death!

Another thing Mack talks about is the psychic experiences his subjects often have. Did you ever have anything like that?

Oh, no. A lot of people say, to see UFOs you got to be psychic, right? So. I took a course in psychic development. And you want to know something? I still hold the record for the lowest marks anybody's ever seen! [laughing] If there were two answers, I'd get the wrong one. I'm about as psychic as a dead fish!

If the kind of hypnosis that's used is producing fantasies, why do you think people are having those particular fantasies?

Because the investigators are directing them to have those fantasies. They're suggesting them to them. They're very, very destructive people. They don't care who they hurt to make people buy a book, to make some money.
Okay I've been having contacts with this girl. Ten years old, she's on vacation with her parents, and she goes for a walk in the woods. And she's late getting back. Her parents are yelling to her, her brother's yelling to her, and they're saying, 'Where have you been? We were ready to call out the police.' But she was just taking a walk in the woods.
Years later, she wondered: Did I get abducted by a UFO? Even though she didn't see any UFOs. So she goes down and visits [a famous abduction researcher] for nine days. And during the nine days, she has all these abductees come in and tell her in great detail what happened to them on board the craft. And then he gave her hypnosis. Five tapes of abductions, beginning when she was three years old.
You know what happened next? She joined the military. She's been in the military maybe about six months and they come out with handcuffs and a straitjacket and carry her off, to a mental hospital. Now she claims that somebody somewhere sent one of the tapes of her hypnosis to the military. I doubt it. I think if they'd sent the tapes, they would have just called her in and questioned her.
I think she was really bizarre. She's been hallucinating ever since. She's even married to an alien now. She's had two fetuses taken. She can't get a job and keep it. She doesn't get along with anybody. She wrote a little booklet, but nobody'll touch it because it's exactly what everybody else is saying!
I asked this resarcher if he's given this woman hypnosis. He said: 'Yes.' I said, 'But you had no basis to give her hypnosis.' And he said, 'Yeah but it made her feel better.' I don't know if she was mentally ill before or if this really threw her over the edge. I sent her an Indian dream catcher. You know, it catches the bad dreams but lets the good ones through. See if that'll do her some good.

Speaking of influences, it's been shown that people in the UK who thought they'd been abducted tended to report meeting tall, blond entities rather than the little Grays. Then in 1987 Whitley Strieber pubished Communion, and the number of Grays being reported in the UK just about tripled.

I met one of those! A Venusian! Sure! In 1978. He was six foot two, blond with blue eyes. And also out of this world! [Peals of laughter] His name was Peter. He lives in Europe now. [More laughter] But the UFO people well, you've seen the pictures. They don't look like any of Budd Hopkins' bug-eyed monsters.

If you didn't know whether or not someone claiming to be an abductee had been hypnotized, would you be able to tell whether their story was genuine or not? Is the real thing that different from the standard abduction story that you see on TV and so on?

The real abductions are totally different from what you see on TV. The UFO people now, I don't say 'aliens' are people, but they're different from us. There are certain fundamental, physical characteristics which are different. And if a person has really seen one they know it. And the real abductees have never had any need for therapy. And not only that, but every one of them has had changes in their lives. Of benefit to them. It's been a very positive experience.
Professor John Salter [now known as John Hunter Gray] in North Dakota, he and his son were stopped. Now I don't think they were actually taken on board the craft, but the UFO people came out and looked his truck all over and did some testing on them, and gave them some kind of injection. It left a round circle and a puncture mark.
And after that, healthwise, it was like he was reborn. Any problems he had disappeared. He gets along now on five hours' sleep a night. He had scar on his face from a car accident that disappeared. He was beginning to get wrinkles they're gone. There were 22 different physical changes. And no hypnosis. He remembers the event clearly. I told him, don't have hypnosis. In fact, Dr Simon told us, we were so close to remembering, that if we had not gone to him for hypnosis, we would have remembered anyway.

Do you think there's anything to the notion that the UFO put in screen memories, to blank out the memory of the experience?

What I think is, first of all, like I said, Dr Simon used medical hypnosis on Barney and me. You can do this while talking. When Dr Simon said he'd put me into a trance, I thought No way. I'm walking around the room, looking at pictures. And he said, 'Turn around and walk towards me.' And I did, and he said, 'Oh that's easy!' I was in a trance. And I think that's what the UFO people do. They get face to face, while talking, and schwwiitt, you're in. A deep trance. That's how they control people. I've never said that publicly. But now I might as well!
Dr Simon said to us, if we couldn't get together once a week, we would have to go in and be hypnotized. He said we should not go more than ten days without hypnosis because if it went longer than that, the amnesia he put on us would open up and we'd start to remember what happened during our sessions with him. So we had to keep the amnesia on. So ten nights after the experience, I had my dreams. They must use the same kind of hypnosis Dr Simon did. What the UFO people do is nothing magical. It's nothing we can't do to each other.

You must feel a bit ambivalent, thoughgiven that (if you won't hit me for saying this) you're the grandmother of the abduction phenomenon that we see today.

Do you realize what I could have done with this? You realize the money I could have made? You know how many cults I could have set up? But I never got paid for TV programs. Not at any point. Never got paid. I got my expenses. But I was told the UFO people would like me to do it that way. Look at the dedication to my book. 'To UFOs with love.'
Probably one of the best things ever said to me was, 'Stay away from the UFO "experts". Stay away from the UFO organizations.' And I did. And by staying away from them, I made contact with the top scientists in this country. I've done TV programs with the astronauts. NASA has some of my pictures of UFOs. I've had all kinds of people here. I've got UFO reports from the Pentagon, from the CIA, the FBI, the military. I think they're keeping quiet now because I don't think they really know enough. I think they're building up. They're letting a little bit out here, there, and everywhere. I think when the announcement is made, it's going to be worldwide. At the moment, they have insufficient evidence. Even though they do have the bodies. I'm sure of that. I'm positive.

You mean from Roswell?

I don't where they're from, but they have bodies.I will tell you how I knew they've got bodies. I said there were two characteristics, where the UFO people are different from us. We abductees never reveal these characteristics. And one day I got a phone call from this man no identification he just said, 'I want to ask you, when you saw these UFO people, did you notice bla-bla-bla-bla?' And I said to myself, 'He's seen 'em, 'cause he knows it.' And I said: 'Yes.' And I said: 'And how did you know that?' He said: 'I did the autopsy.'

What do you reckon to the idea they're interbreeding with humans?

They can't interbreed with us. They don't have the same internal organs. It's no more likely than we could breed with chimpanzees. I don't believe in alien foetuses, and I don't believe in floating out windows and walking through walls or down through ceilings. Or implants. You know, let's face it. UFO people do not walk through walls. UFO people do not carry people up and down on beams of light. [Chuckles] They have beams of light. And they'll come in on a beam of light. But they don't take anyone up with 'em on a beam of light.

So your feeling is the UFO people can't do 'magic' like that

No, they're people!

Because they're as limited by the laws of physics as we are.

Right. You know, actually they show these sketches of UFOs on TV that give a totally wrong idea of what a UFO should look like. Most of them are little. They're not much bigger than a car, the ones that come here. Some of them are 20, maybe 25ft across. They not great huge things. The best thing I ever saw in UFOs, I didn't film. I'm just standing there with my mouth open. One of the things that they do and I never told anybody else this is hook up together. The UFOs would come in, and all of a sudden they'd go off in all directions. Then they'd come back, and attach themselves to each other somehow. And so they appear like some big craft. I tell people, they've been flying around here since 1932. They don't abduct people, those are fantasies. They've never hurt people. Just go out and say Hi! to them. Be friendly. They're a long way from home!
But why do I think the UFOs are here? Well, look at it this way. There's huge numbers of these big, big crafts circling this planet, and they leave these and use big, smaller, smaller, smaller, smaller ones and we're their shopping mall. They're coming down here to pick up whatever they need for up there.

But why do they actually need to pick people up?

Haven't explorers always done this? Explorers have always done it. Even Columbus took some of the Indians back to Spain. Captain John Smith took Pocohontas back to England. So why not? However, I can't say that they're taking any of us back with them. Maybe they are. I don't know. That was one of the things I was afraid of. But then [laughing] they rejected me!


Betty and Barney Hill were allegedly abducted by aliens in September 1961.
Barney, then aged 39, worked as a mail sorter in Boston, commuting the 120-mile round trip from Portsmouth each day. Betty, aged 41, was a social worker for the State of New Hampshire. They had decided on the spur of the moment to drive to the Niagara Falls for a short break. The Hills decided on an all-night drive home from Montreal to Portsmouth to avoid a storm.

On US Highway 3, near Lancaster, NH, Betty noticed a bright light near the Moon. The light seemed to be pacing them and several times they stopped the car to see it better. At one point Betty saw it cross the face of the Moon. The light dropped to tree height, and they stopped again. Barney took his binoculars and walked across a field towards the light, and came within 50ft (15m) of it.
He could now tell it was an object 'like a big pancake' with a row of windows. Through the binoculars he could see several occupants, dressed in Nazi-style uniforms. Suddenly convinced he was about to be captured, he fled back to the car in terror. At some point, they realized they had somehow driven off the main highway. The couple remembered little after this until they eventually rejoined US 3 near Ashland, when they heard another set of beeps. They reached Portsmouth as day was breaking, having taken 7 hours to cover the last 190 miles of their trip. From 29 September to 3 October Betty had a series of nightmares in which she saw a group of humanoids blocking US 3; she and Barney were then led aboard the UFO.

Under hypnosis with psychiatrist Dr Benjamin Simon in 1963, both told approximately the same story. Uniformed humanoids with large, wrap-around eyes, small, flattened noses, and slitted, lipless mouths had appeared in the headlights, waving them to a halt. On board the UFO, each was given a medical examination in separate rooms. A skin sample was taken from Betty's arm, part of a fingernail was cut off, and a hair was pulled from her head; a long needle was inserted into Betty's navel: she was told this was a pregnancy test. Barney had a circular instrument applied to his groin, apparently to extract semen.

After her examination, Betty had a conversation with the leader of her captors. When she asked where they came from, she was shown a star map with no legend on it, and was given a book as a keepsake of the event. (Later, this was taken from her and she was told she would not remember the experience.) Each understood the other as if they were speaking plain English, but Betty had the impression that they communicate telepathically. The humanoids used colloquial English, but were sometimes confused by very basic concepts asking, for example: 'What are vegetables? What is yellow?' They seemed to have no notion of time, although they used phrases like 'Just a minute'.

They were particularly intrigued by Barney's dentures, and when Betty explained that he had them because of an injury but that many people had them in old age, they did not understand the idea of aging. The couple were walked back to their car by the aliens, and watched the UFO depart as a glowing orange ball.

Dr Simon noted that Betty's account under hypnosis precisely matched the content of her dreams, and concluded that the Hills had had an imaginary experience whose content was based on Betty's dreams, which had been brought on by fear after a genuine close encounter with a UFO.
Betty Hill has continued to believe in the reality of her abduction. Barney died in 1969 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Betty Hill's A Common Sense Approach to UFOs is available from-

Betty Hill,

PO Box 55, Greenland,

New Hampshire 03840,

Price $15.95, plus overseas postage $10.50. ISBN 0-9648243-0-2

The words of the first abductee appeared in Fortean Times 110