I just recently happened across a very interesting paper written in 2007 by James D. Macdonald, a former Navy navigator and science fiction writer who lives in Colebrook, New Hampshire (not to be confused with the late atmospheric physicist and UFO proponent Dr. James E. McDonald.). He lives right along the path of the Hills' famous journey, on U.S. Route 3. Performing a careful line-by-line analysis of the account of the Hills' Wild Ride in John Fuller's Interrupted Journey and also scrutinizing the recent book Captured by Kathleen Marden and Stanton T. Friedman (Marden is Betty Hill's niece), Macdonald notes that "the real reason why they were making a forced march is revealed. They didn’t have enough money for a motel so they’d decided to pull an all-nighter." Exactly.
As quoted by Fuller, Barney Hill told Betty while in Colebrook, NH shortly after 10 PM, “It looks like we should be home by 2:30 in the morning—or 3:00 at the latest.” Macdonald says, "That’s a wildly optimistic estimate. But they’d already decided that they were going to drive home that night. They were on the tail end of a twelve-hundred-mile trip, had run out of money, and were committed to pushing on." In fact, "By the time they reached home they’d been driving for around twenty-one hours. They’re lucky that being abducted by space aliens was the worst that happened to them: Others who’ve tried similar trips have run into trees." Or a deer. Or a moose. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation has proclaimed November 6-12 as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week® 2011. The AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety lists as the top "warning sign" of the driver who is too drowsy to drive safely as "The inability to recall the last few miles traveled." The Hills could be the poster children for this traffic safety crusade.
|The moon, Jupiter, and Saturn (bottom) as seen from the White Mountains at midnight, Sept. 19-20, 1961 (moon and planets enlarged, not to scale)|
|The light at top of Cannon Mountain: is this the "UFO" that abducted the Hills? (Photo by James D. Macdonald)|
Betty would have lost sight of the moon and its accompanying planets as the car went up hill along the side of Mt. Prospect, heading nearly due south. As they crested the rise, the moon and planets would reappear, only now there were two lights to the left of the moon. The light on Cannon Mountain, at that range on a clear night, is as bright or brighter than Jupiter. On a clear night stars appear below the peak of Cannon Mountain to the right and left. Up above we heard the Hills, in a different interview, relate, “it first appeared to be a falling star—only it fell upward.” Immediately after cresting the shoulder of the mountain, Route 3 plunges down a 9% grade for the next half mile. The road is pointed directly at Cannon Mountain at this time. Subjectively, at night, I can report of my own direct observation, the light appears to head rapidly straight up...the light on top of Cannon Mountain is visible at various points along this entire route—sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes to the right of the road, and sometimes to the left... One question that you’d have to answer in order to show this was a flying saucer is, “If what you saw was a space ship, where was the light on Cannon while all this was going on?”The Hills reported what appears to be a second Close Encounter with the light atop Cannon Mountain on April 2, 1966: "As we were returning through the Franconia Notch in the general area of the tramway and Cannon Mountain, one [UFO] moved around the mountain about 50 feet from the ground, in front of us. Its lights dimmed out and we could see the row of windows before it became invisible. It just faded out of sight and then just reappeared with different lighting behind us... On the opposite side of the highway was a second one, which also faded out. ” (Marden, p. 208-209).
The final spot where the Hills stopped and had a "close encounter" (where Barney says he saw "Nazi" spacemen in his binoculars) was just south of Indian Head. Barney and Betty took UFO researcher Walter Webb to that spot to re-enact the sighting in 1964, and in 2000 Betty Hill took those of us participating in the Indian Head conference there. It's near the location of the now-defunct Mountaineer Motel on Rt. 3 in Lincoln, NH, whose sign stands just north of Exit 33 of I-93 (which was not yet built in 1961). After they drove off from that site, in something of a panic, they never saw the UFO again. Macdonald notes, "2.1 miles south of Indian Head is the last time the Lookout Tower Light is visible from Rt. 3."
" There's another possible object they may have seen: the Jack O'Lantern Resort in Woodstock which, at the time, had a large billboard with their logo (a stylized jack-o-lantern) down by the road. That would certainly appear to be a "large, luminous moon-shape, which seemed to be touching the road, sitting on end under some pines." This is well out of town; no other features are nearby."That is a very interesting suggestion. As Kathleen Marden describes it, at this point the Hills vaguely remembered "seeing a huge fiery red-orange orb resting upon the ground." I was not able to find any photo of the Jack O'Lantern resort's giant, unlighted billboard, but I did discover some old postcards with photographs of the giant orange pumpkin that used to sit on the motel roof. Judging from the cars out front, the photo would seem to be from the 1960s. And if the pumpkin were illuminated but the motel lights were out, the "orb" might seem to rest on the ground. In any case, the Hills must have driven past this giant pumpkin on Rt. 3, just minutes after they were frightened out of their wits near Indian Head.
|Could this be the "huge fiery red-orange orb" that the Hills remembered seeing as they sped away from the "Close Encounter" site, just a few miles away?|
What do they remember south of Indian Head?Exactly!
a) The Lincoln/Woodstock road marker
b) Downtown North Woodstock
c) (Possibly) the billboard for the Jack O'Lantern Golf Course & Resort in Woodstock
d) Downtown Plymouth
e) Downtown Ashland
f) Entering the superhighway
In short, they remember every single town they passed through. The rest of the trip is past dark lakes, rivers, fields, and woods. I’ve driven that route more than once, and I don’t remember much more than that myself. Not only isn’t there any missing time, there aren’t any missing memories.