Sixty years ago. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. On Sept. 19, 1961, one couple’s life changed forever. An event occurred that would forever define them. Their experience would be one that few people, if any, have ever endured. The question remains after all these years – did it happen?

Barney and Betty Hill, along with their dog, Delsey, had been on a three-day vacation in Canada and were driving back to their home in Portsmouth, N.H.. Barney was a postal worker and civil rights leader. Betty was a social worker and civil rights advocate.

About 10:30 p.m. that night, they decided to keep driving hoping to arrive home by 3 a.m. at the latest. As Barney drove the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, Betty observed a bright light in the sky that kept growing larger. They pulled off the road just south of Twin Mountain to walk Delsey. Betty watched through binoculars and observed a craft with flashing lights. They returned to the car and continued traveling toward Franconia Notch. The road was deserted and the craft was following them. About one mile south of Indian Head, the craft moved directly toward the vehicle causing Barney to stop the car.

According to www.history.com, Barney ran into a field. “What he saw was as big as a jet but as round and flat as a pancake. ‘My God, what is this thing?’ he recalled thinking…Behind rows of windows, gray uniformed beings seemed to look right at him…He had a startling thought: We’re about to be captured. Yelling hysterically, he ran back to the car and barreled down the road as Betty tracked the craft…Without explanation, loud, rhythmic beeps sounded from the car’s trunk. The couple felt instantly drowsy and lost consciousness. They came to around two hours later and 35 miles down the road.”

After arriving home, they tried to figure out what had happened. Barney’s shoes were scraped, Betty’s dress was torn and stained, and their watches had stopped working.

Ten days later Betty began having dreams and started writing down what she dreamed about. After five successive nights, the dreams stopped. Benjamin Simon, a psychiatrist, and neurologist in Boston, spent five months using hypnosis separately with the Hills to try and determine what had happened. Under hypnosis, both Barney and Betty recalled being taken onto the craft where their bodies were examined separately by the figures. Samples such as hair, nail clippings, and skin were taken before they were returned to their car. Betty also remembered seeing a star map while on the craft and was later able to recreate the map.

I could not find any information as to whether Delsey was taken aboard and examined. However, in an article by Chuck Billy dated Aug. 29, 2019, Betty, while under hypnosis, remembered “holding Delsey on her lap, as they all watched the UFO fly away.”

There are many puzzling pieces to this event. There are avid believers and non-believers. Some psychologists called it false memories, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, or vivid imaginations. The Hills never recanted their story. Betty became well known among UFO believers later in life, but she and Barney were never looking to become celebrities. Their story is reportedly acknowledged as the first widely publicized report of alien abduction in the U.S.

The Hills’ paperwork and notes relating to the abduction are now housed at the University of New Hampshire, Betty’s alma mater. Their story was also told in The Interrupted Journey, a best-selling book in 1966 by John G. Fuller; The UFO Incident, a film in 1975 starring James Earl Jones as Barney and Estelle Parsons as Betty; and became part of Project Blue Book, a UFO research project by the U.S. Air Force.

Eight years later Barney died at the age of 46 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Betty died in 2004 at the age of 85 of cancer. She never remarried. Delsey died on Dec. 24, 1968 of dehydration due to a bladder infection.

This year the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, along with the military, released a report on UFO sightings. Many readers hoped it would contain new information about UFOs and whether they are a national security concern. In an article by Robert Burns and Nomaan Merchant of the Associated Press dated June 4, 2021, investigators “have found no evidence the sightings are linked to aliens – but can’t deny a link either…the U.S. government cannot give a definitive explanation of aerial phenomena spotted by military pilots.” In another article by Greg Myre at www.npr.org dated June 25, 2021, “A U.S. government report on UFOs says it found no evidence of aliens but acknowledged 143 reports of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ since 2004 that could not be explained.”

UFO sightings in the U.S. can be reported to the National UFO Reporting Center. There were 6,340 sightings in 2019. States with the most sightings are Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont. Pilots, astronauts, and personnel on naval carriers have all reported seeing UFOs. Photos and videos have been submitted. So are UFOs real or can they be explained?

Life is a journey. Are we alone on our journey or are there beings with advanced life systems and technology? Only you can decide.