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How Betty and Barney Hill's Alien Abduction Story Defined the Genre

December 13, 2019 in History

By Linda Lacina

Their account, recovered with the help of hypnosis, detailed extensive medical exams, including a crude pregnancy test.

Betty and Barney Hill, who claim to have been abducted by aliens in 1961, holding a book written about their experience circa 1967.

Is it chasing us? That thought coursed through . The night was too quiet for a helicopter, a commercial plane or even military jet with a hotshot pilot. He didn’t want to spook Betty, but he was becoming concerned. What was this light and why was it toying with them?

About 70 miles past the diner, the object hovered just above the treetops, approximately 100 feet above them. Barney abruptly stopped the car, keeping the engine running. He shoved a handgun he’d hidden beneath the seat into his pocket and rushed into a dark field, leaving Betty in the car. 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. “This can’t be real.”

READ MORE: This Scoutmaster Had a Run-in with a UFO. The Kids Saw it Too.

Behind rows of windows, gray uniformed beings seemed to look right at him, Barney recalled. He tried to lift his hand to his pistol but somehow couldn’t. A voice told him not to put down his binoculars.

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, craning her head outside the car window. 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.

Barney holding up a diagram explaining the alien abduction.

Recovering the memory

Back home in Portsmouth, they tried to make sense of the night. Barney felt compelled to examine his body’s lower half. Both seemed aware of a puzzling presence.

In the weeks and months after, Betty, an avid reader, checked out books from the library discovering the civilian UFO group National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). She also reported the sighting to the Air Force, worried about radiation.

In coming years, with Betty suffering from disturbing dreams and Barney developing an ulcer and anxiety, the couple sought mental help. The two met with Benjamin Simon, a psychiatrist and neurologist who specialized in hypnosis, a …read more


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Battle of the Bulge: How American Grit Halted Hitler's Last-Ditch Strike

December 13, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

Under cripplingly cold winter conditions, American troops proved their mettle.

On December 14, 1944, American GIs stationed in the Belgian-German border town of Bastogne were in a jolly holiday mood. Hollywood star …read more


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Why the Hunt for the Real Atlanta Bomber Took Nearly 7 Years

December 13, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

While Richard Jewell was an initial suspect, it took collaboration between federal and local investigators to zero-in on the actual bomber, Eric Rudolph.

Midway through the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, three pipe bombs went off in the Centennial Olympic Park, killing two people and injuring 111. The man behind the bombing was 29-year-old Eric Rudolph, a terrorist who went on to carry out three more bombings over the next year and a half. But in order to catch him, the federal government and local law enforcement had to change how they worked. It wasn’t until they increased collaboration on domestic terrorism that Rudolph was finally captured—nearly seven years later.

Like Timothy McVeigh, who bombed Oklahoma City in 1995, Rudolph was former military member and far-right extremist who turned to violence. Rudolph bombed the Olympics because, as he later said in a statement, he wanted to embarrass the United States on the world stage for legalizing abortion. In January and February 1997, he bombed an abortion clinic and a gay nightclub in the Atlanta area, injuring 11 people. In January 1998, he bombed another abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, seriously injuring a nurse and killing a police officer—making it the first deadly abortion clinic bombing in U.S. history.

Although Rudolph acted alone, he was part of a growing trend of violent far-right extremism in the 1980s and ‘90s. This type of extremism was on the federal government’s radar, but at the time, local law enforcement didn’t necessarily see attacks on abortion clinics and a major sporting event as part of a larger picture of domestic terrorism.

US soldiers inspect a vehicle on July 28, 1996 in downtown Atlanta. Security checks increased following the bomb blast at Centennial Park which killed two people and injured 111.

“The entire mindset in the United States was terrorism was not terrorism unless it was foreign,” says Malcolm Nance, who has spent decades training local law enforcement in counterterrorism and is the executive director of TAPSTRI. “It was just sort of like domestic terrorism in the United States was so anecdotal that it was to be ignored.”

Richard Jewell Initially Labeled as Suspect

One of the tragedies of the Atlanta bombing is that security guard Richard Jewell, who discovered Rudolph’s bomb and saved lives by starting an evacuation, became the main suspect for the first three months after the …read more