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In the tradition of great storytellers, Davis continues to approach Off The Path in serial form. He’ll explore this season, called "Off the Plank," in 2 or 3 installments and then combine them into a single podcast episode. Here, you’ll find those individual installments — which we’re calling “Mile Markers.” Enjoy the ride!

A 'close encounter' amid the mountains of New Hampshire

A historical marker stands near the spot Betty and Barney Hill said they were abducted by aliens.
Davis Dunavin / WSHU
A historical marker stands near the spot Betty and Barney Hill said they were abducted by aliens.

Betty and Barney Hill said they had an encounter with aliens more than 60 years ago. Their story became the launching point for alien abductions in popular culture. They said it happened late one night on a lonely road in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

The Hills were driving their ’57 Chevy Bel Air through Franconia Notch — back toward their home in Portsmouth — from a vacation in Canada. They had their pet dachshund in the car with them. The nearly full moon hung over the dark shapes of the mountains.

“Betty spotted a new light in the sky," said Kathleen Marden, Betty and Barney's niece. "And what caught her attention was that instead of moving like a meteorite, it moved upward into the air. ... And as time went on, this light grew larger and larger.”

They drove past the Indian Head Resort — where a historical marker about the supposed abduction now stands. And about a mile later —

“This craft shifted ahead and descended rapidly toward the Hills’ car," Marden said. "It stopped partially over the highway and partially to the right side of the road.”

Hovering silently — in place — about 200 feet in the air.

“And then it started to slowly descend," Marden said. "Barney opened the car door, he grabbed the binoculars that were on the seat and looked up at this craft. Betty was watching it from the passenger seat. They could see a large hovering craft. There was an incredibly bright light shining through the windows.”

It veered off into a field — and Barney followed. And that’s where he got a good look inside the windows.

"And he saw nonhumans looking back at him," Marden said.

Barney ran back to the car and the Hills sped off down the highway.

“But he noticed that that craft was now heading in his direction," Marden said. "Within moments he and Betty heard a series of code-like buzzing sounds. It caused the car to vibrate and for a tingling sensation to pass through their bodies. The next thing they knew they were 35 miles down the highway.”

They didn’t know how much time had passed. It’s a common experience reported by those who say they’ve been abducted by UFOs. Betty and Barney went home to Portsmouth. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

“Betty's dress was torn in several places," Marden said. "And later, a pink powdery substance grew on it. Barney's best fresh shoes were so deeply scraped that he had to buy new shoes.”

They had dreams and flashes of memories. Eventually, through hypnosis, they remembered boarding the craft and meeting aliens. The creatures they described under hypnosis still shape how we picture aliens today. That’s on the next episode of Off the Path.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.