Betty & Barney Hill vs the Grays


“The figures, according to Barney Hill were of human form dressed in shiny black uniforms and black caps with peaks or bills on them (which could be seen when the figures turned their heads). The uniforms were like glossy leather… The figures reminded the observer of the cold precision of German officers; they moved smoothly and efficiently and showed no emotion except for one figure operating a lever who, Mr. Hill claimed, looked over his shoulder and smiled… The ‘leader’ at the window held a special attraction for the witness and frightened him terribly.” (Text from NICAP report… David Baker charcoal)

You know I can remember when The Interrupted Journey first came out. I remember seeing it at the local library, in bookstores, and at some point finally had to read it; I was already obsessed with the idea… when that obsession began is another story. It was and is still a striking tale. Betty Hill has been, so to speak, one of those voices in the wilderness. She has been a champion of the cause.

I remember being impressed with the story, the hypnotic sessions seemed to just about clinch the truth of the tale for me- I had little knowledge of hypnosis at the time, or so-called false memories, confabulation etc.- and this was way before all the information on the star map came out- but of course having never seen an alien myself, at least to my knowledge, crossing that line, no matter how close I was to the line, and I was very close to crossing it, well I would have expressed my belief regarding their abduction in terms of probabilities. Though my estimation of this case has changed in many ways I would be inclined still to express my opinion in similar terms today.

It might be helpful to say a little something about the cause. The cause isn’t something quite as simple as bringing the truth to the world at large about the aliens in our midst; without a doubt this is still hardly a tangent to the cause. Many of us that think contact a real possibility if not probability- to some of us indeed a certainty- would identify with this cause. The real cause, the one behind all the so-called information about aliens, Reticulans or not, a cause which I think Betty was something of a champion of also, however nonchalant, is that this enigma holds something of value to be discovered and is worth investigating.

Later of course the discussion about this case, still continuing today, shifted its focus with the advent of Marjorie Fish’s research into the star map Betty had been introduced to on the ship. Really the focal point of the abduction is now the star map. The reality of the abduction, many people tend to believe, stands or falls based on the truth of this map… And that map has been the point of origin of an entire mythology.

The details and pattern of this abduction have become a touchstone in the field. The star map renewed debate, if it needed renewing, and in no small way is responsible for the high profile this case may still have; it is a ‘believable’ abduction, so-called, the field itself suffers from being too unbelievable… and just what is going on with that map?! That is no small thanks to Betty herself too.

The case has imperceptibly, slowly but surely, been accepted as genuine by a gamut of investigators and others, people that may, in terms of belief, occupy distant poles in their philosophies re alien contact and UFO’s in general. Still, even now, there is quite enough material out there however to bring into question the reality of their ordeal.

What are the alternatives?

Of course we can accept their tale at face value. They were indeed, physically, as that word is usually understood, aboard an alien ship, abducted by aliens whose ultimate reasons are still, perhaps, absurd or shadowy. They met with them, underwent some kind of medical evaluations, and Betty almost left the ship with one of their books, well in short we can accept all the many details of the story as having happened, quite literally, in the reality we know and love. The scarf and the Nazi appearance of the leader would be included in such details.

What if it didn’t happen? At least it wasn’t the literal in-your-face ordeal, frightening them out of their wits etc… of course it did seem to be very frightening to them both and the edges and screams in their voices can still be heard in the tapes of their sessions with Dr. Simon…

One of the alternatives is to imagine they were indeed lying, the whole tale one sustained lie, and the hypnotic sessions a triumph of their imagination, let’s say, among other possibilities. I think few of us who have looked into the case even a little bit could accept the alternative they were indeed quite simply liars. Betty’s indefatigable testimony would seem to point to another alternative. This alternative of a sustained lie is too unbelievable in itself, more unbelievable perhaps than her rather absurd testimony, than the aliens themselves.

Perhaps the tale is indeed a triumph of their imagination, Betty’s imagination in particular, but a triumph so complete they believed the tale themselves. This is a marginal interpretation probably accepted by few people. Of course how it happened they were so completely taken, persuaded, by such a thing would beg another explanation.

Is there another alternative? Perhaps the question of reality should be reconsidered. Can there be only one reality? Is it possible the tale indeed is real but the reality it enjoys is not our reality? Or is this idea too close to imagination to be given attention?

Often in discussions of this case the only alternatives allowed are either it happened or didn’t. The discussion is very black and white without degrees of interpretation. Betty with her very outspoken testimony tended to make it difficult to consider the alternative that it didn’t happen. There are many interviews with her. You can see an example of her style and voice here

Of course the third alternative is that something did happen… something not quite so obvious as the black and white alternatives suggest something not so obvious either to us looking back at it now or even the Hills themselves. But just what that something is, being beyond both reality as we understand it, and the reality they seemed to understand as well, and its negation, is often not considered or given quite short shrift. Is the tale more symbolic than real; does it still hold the promise of contact?

The Question of Reality

The third alternative is a cover for more than one possibility. She may have been contacted through dreams and fantasy. Her story may still say something about contact but perhaps something different than we think.

On the other hand their imagination may have been primary. Betty came to believe her own imagination. This really isn’t as strange as it might seem; memory is a strange thing.   And in spite of what I said above we do come to believe in many things, many of which are real, through our imagination.  Still it seems an extreme position.

Another alternative often not spoken about in direct terms is manipulation. Now most of us would not get this possibility at all. The idea is other people may have had a hand in this story, especially in the Hill’s acceptance of it; that they were indeed led into believing it. The reasons for this manipulation would not be so apparent.

Lastly of course the idea that the story is indeed real, but not situated in our normal definition of reality leaves one clueless; if you have never experienced anything like this kind of thing the notion will seem utterly absurd.

Missing Time

Janine is carefully reading Fuller’s book The Interrupted Journey. She finds in it some important facts that I had missed. The whole story of the abduction of the Hills by saucer people didn’t originate with Dr. Simon at all but with this man Hohmann himself. This is the way it happened: when they came home to Portsmouth after their sighting of 19 September 1961 Betty first mentioned the incident to her sister Janet, who in turn spoke to the former chief of police of Newton. They were told to contact Pease Air Force Base, where practically nothing was done. Two days later Betty found one of Keyhoe’s books in the library. She wrote to him and the case was forwarded to Webb, a NICAP consultant, by Richard Hall, about one month after the sighting. In the meantime Robert Hohmann and C.D.Jackson had come to Washington where they had lunch with Keyhoe. The case was brought up. On November 3rd they wrote to the Hills and they met with them on November 25th, interviewing them from noon to midnight. They even asked them if they used fertilizers for their trees, because they thought saucer pilots might want to steal the fertilizer. Hohmann and Jackson also told the Hills there might well be life on Alpha Centauri. It is this team of selfstyled scientific detectives who discovered that some sixty kilometers and some two hours were “missing” from the couple’s itinerary. A friend of the Hills who attended that meeting suggested hypnosis. On 25 March 1962 Betty and Barney consulted Dr. Quirke… 

The quote above, from Forbidden Science by Vallee, implies the Hill’s were not aware at all of this question of time before that conversation. Betty has said something different in other places; they were both aware the trip back had taken longer, had taken long enough to cause them to be aware of the difference.

Of course the emphasis on this gap of so-called ‘missing time’ is one of the things that leads to the inevitable question: what was going on during this strange gap? Well anyone that has taken a long road trip, hours in duration, can answer that. Who knows?! Really it’s not atypical for such trips to behave like that. It is the nature of the beast so to speak. Sometimes you can point to something specific that caused the difference in time but often it is simply a cumulative effect. Your average speed was slower returning than leaving or vice versa, but the things that contributed to that difference are often harder- or impossible- to isolate.

Having first read about this case before taking any long road trips this seemed like a big thing, an important point about their adventure. Now, a little wiser, it seems ridiculous, really almost trivial, to make something out of it. Still, having said all that, the converse isn’t true or to put it differently just because you may be paranoid does not mean there are not people out to get you. They may still be out there. The point being that by itself this missing time isn’t very meaningful in this particular case; in other words if there was nothing else we would not have a case at all.  Or, in other words, there may indeed be some real time actually missing, but beyond the usual parameters of a road trip?  Who can say..?

Both Betty and Barney Hill, apart from the missing time, seemed ‘haunted’ by this trip. Betty had nightmares. Barney suffered an unremitting anxiety until his death. That they went through something, something off the beaten track, is at least suggested by these telltale signs.

Listening to their sessions with Dr. Simon it seems evident they both struggled with something that happened to them but the nature of that something is literally something else again.

The Nazi

Barney: (He takes care to be extremely precise.) There was a row of windows. A huge row of windows. Only divided by struts – or structures that prevented it from being one solid window. Or then—it would have been one solid window. And the evil face on the— ( He starts to say Leader.) He looks like a German Nazi. He’s a Nazi. ( There is a questioning tone in his voice.)

Dr. Simon: He’s a Nazi. did he have on a uniform?

Barney: Yes

Dr. Simon: What kind of uniform?

Barney: ( With a small amount of surprise.) He had a black scarf around his neck, dangling over his left shoulder.

Dr. Simon: ( Another sharp probe.) How could you see the figures so clearly at that distance? Barney: I was looking at them with binoculars.

Dr. Simon: Oh. Did they have faces like other people? You said one was like a red-headed Irishman.

Barney: ( Describing the scene very slowly and carefully.) His eyes were slanted. Oh– his eyes were slanted!. But not like a Chinese– Oh. Oh.

Dr. Simon: What was Betty doing all this time?

Barney: I can’t hear her.

Dr. Simon: Did you make an outcry to her like you did to me?

Barney: I-I can’t remember–I don’t know.

Dr. Simon: You would remember if you did.

Barney: ( His thoughts seem to be on the craft, and not on the Doctor.) I did not. I know this creature is telling me something.

Dr. Simon: Telling you something? How? How is it getting to you?

Barney: I can see it in his face. No, his lips are not moving.

Dr. Simon: Go on. He’s telling you something. What did he tell you?

Barney: Stay there–and just keep looking. Just keep looking–and stay there. and just keep looking. Just keep looking.

Dr. Simon: Could you hear him tell you?

Barney: Oh! I got the binoculars away from my eyes. ‘Cause if I don’t, I’ll just stand there.

Dr. Simon: Did you hear him tell you this?

Barney: Oh, no. He didn’t say it. ( More tremor in his voice. )

Dr. Simon: You felt he said it?

Barney: I know.

Dr. Simon: You know he said it?

Barney: Yes. “Just stay there”, he said. ( Now his voice breaks in extreme terror. ) It’s pounding in my head!! ( He screams again. ) I gotta get away, I gotta get away from here!

Dr. Simon: All right. All right. calm down.

Barney: ( Still breathless. ) Gotta get away.

Dr. Simon: Calm down. How can you be sure he was telling you this?

Barney: ( He speaks now with awe.) His eyes! . His eyes. . I’ve never seen eyes like that.

Dr. Simon: You said they were friendly.

Barney: Not the Leader’s. I said the one looking over his shoulder.

Dr. Simon: How did you know the other one was the Leader.

Barney: ( In careful level tones again. ) Because everybody moved – everybody was standing there looking at me. But everybody moved. These levers that were in the back….or they went to a big board, it looked like a board. And only this one, with the black, black shiny jacket and the scarf stayed at the window.

He had a black scarf around his neck, dangling over his left shoulder.  A stylish UFO pilot..?! Well I don’t want to make too much of this… not just a scarf, but a black scarf, and dangling over his left shoulder! Nazi or not he reminded Barney of a Nazi… with a scarf dangling over his left shoulder.


…Thomas E. Bullard opens his massively impressive study of the abduction mystery with a discussion of the legendary status of the “interrupted journey” of Betty and Barney Hill. It was the most sensational UFO story of its time; a nasty little horror story which engraved itself on the unconscious of a generation. The growth of UFO abduction reports subsequent to their appearance on the cultural scene is unsurprising…

This is from Martin Kottmeyer’s article Entirely Unpredisposed… and its true it was a horror story that engraved itself on the unconscious of a generation.  The average person now, unless he has had a reason to look into the history of this field, knows more about the Flintstones than about the star map & the Reticulans.

Well maybe I should take that back; they may have heard of the Reticulans. The Grays are, so to speak, contemporary and that is a ‘nickname’, depending on your realm of discourse.

The reference to the Nazis, believe it or not, has been used by some to support the idea the Nazis indeed had an inside track on UFOs… well there may really be a crumpet of truth here but I tend to believe the Hill’s or their case don’t have much to do with supporting the idea the Nazis had anything to do with flying saucers.

Let us not forget the Jimmy Durante noses…  Originally that was Betty’s description.  Of course Jimmy Durante would be another tangent to this affair.  Jimmy Durante and Betty Hill are anachronisms.

Most of the (beings) are my height … about five feet to five feet four inches. Their chests are larger than ours; their noses were larger (longer) than the average size although I have seen people with noses like theirs — like Jimmy Durante.

Their complexions were of a gray tone; like a gray paint with a black base; their lips were of a bluish tint. Hair and eyes were very dark, possibly black. The dreams continued for five successive nights.  (Betty Hill from The Interrupted Journey)

Jimmy Durante

On August 4, 1955, The Jimmy Durante Show on NBC was the venue of the final performance by the famous Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda. Miranda fell to her knees while dancing with Durante, who instinctively told the band, “STOP–da music!” He helped Miranda up to her feet as she laughed, “I’m all out of breath!” “Dat’s OK, honey, I’ll take yer lines,” Durante replied. Miranda laughed again and quickly pulled herself together and finished the show. However, the next morning, August 5, Miranda died at home from heart failure.

Jimmy Durante added some warp and woof to the wall-to-wall of comedy… And without a doubt UFOlogy and Forteana would be different today without the tapestry of Betty & Barney Hill.

And there are other details just as curious… contradictions in their accounts.  What to make of them is a question mark.  Now it leads me more into the realm of dream than reality.  Could a dream have affected them as deeply as this experience has done, wherever- and however- the roots were planted… is that possible?  And if it is possible surely it was an uncommon dream without doubt!

And let’s not forget this curious little tidbit of information re Betty’s initial letter to Donald Keyhoe @ NICAP:

NICAP received more than 40,000 letters per year (about a hundred per day), but this single letter nevertheless made its way quickly to the attention of Keyhoe.

This peculiar fact has been noted by more than one researcher… What really happened to them?  Vallee’s statement that their experience was a grave and terrible mystery not only is a curious choice of words but curiously appropriate.


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