Barney And Betty Hill: The First UFO Abduction?

By Grace Taylor
UFO over Mojave Desert, California. (Joe McBride/Getty Images)

A couple drives through rural America in the dead of night, only to be confronted by a strange, bright white light in the sky. They stop to look at the unusual light, but then it moves closer and they see that it's not a star but a gigantic ship shaped like a saucer with multicolored lights that hovers above them silently. Then the lights grow brighter and the couple loses consciousness, finding themselves in their car two hours later, remembering nothing of what just occurred until they begin having dreams of strange, inhuman visitors who performed odd examinations on them inside the metal hull of the foreign ship.

Sounds like your run-of-the-mill U.F.O. abduction story, right? Well, back in the early '60s, there was nothing typical about it. In fact, much of the imagery common to modern U.F.O. abduction stories can be traced back to one reported incident, which was said to have happened on September 19, 1961 in Lancaster, New Hampshire to Barney and Betty Hill. According to the married couple, the immediate aftermath of the encounter was marked by strange occurrences, such as traveling more than 30 miles with no memory of it, finding their luggage in the wrong location after they returned home, and noticing tears in each other's clothing that they swore weren't there when they put them on. They also claimed their watches stopped working.