Betty Hill, who with her late husband claimed to have been abducted by UFO extraterrestrials in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, has died at age 85. She died at home Sunday after a battle with lung cancer.
Betty and Barney Hill claimed that on a return trip from Canada they were abducted for two hours on Sept. 19, 1961.
They gained international notoriety, traveled across the country and made numerous television and radio appearances telling their story, which was retold in the book ”Interrupted Journey” and a television movie.
After returning home from their trip, the Hills were puzzled by Betty’s torn and stained dress, Barney’s scuffed shoes, shiny spots on their car, stopped watches, a broken binocular strap and no memory of two hours of the drive. Under hypnosis three years later, they recounted being kidnapped and examined by aliens.
She retired from lecturing about UFOs in her 70s and complained that the quest for knowledge about extraterrestrials had become tainted with commercialism.
”I’m retiring because of my age, my disappointment in the way the UFO field is headed, and I want a little more leisure time for myself,” she declared. ”I’m tired of traveling.”
Too many people with ”flaky ideas, fantasies and imaginations” were making UFO and abduction reports, she said.
”If you were to believe the numbers of people who are claiming this, it would figure out to 3,000 to 5,000 abductions in the United States alone every night,” she said. ”There wouldn’t be room for planes to fly.”
She said she believed people who said they saw a crashed spaceship with five dead aliens aboard in Roswell, N.M., in 1947. But she said the annual UFO festival in Roswell had become too much for her.
”In the beginning, people were looking for information,” she said. ”Now, it certainly has turned commercial.”
She also said media had fueled UFO fiction.
”The media presented them as huge craft, all brightly lighted and flashing, but they are not,” she said. ”They are small, with dim lights, and many times they fly with no lights.”
Hill had gone a bit commercial herself, trying to fight UFO fantasies with a 1995 self-published book, ”A Common Sense Approach to UFOs.”
Tired of being rebuffed by the government, Hill had said in an interview that she and others serious about their sightings were united in a ”silent network.”
”We discuss our findings only with each other. We have no membership lists, no dues, no publications. We are unknown to the media, UFO organizations and the general public. And we are learning,” she wrote.
Hill had been a state social worker specializing in adoptions and training foster parents.
She also was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a founding member of Rockingham County Community Action.
Hill is survived by a daughter, a son and niece.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Brewitt Funeral Home in Exeter. Burial will be private. Visiting hours will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Boston.com