A Close Encounter With Betty Hill

In time for the Exeter UFO Festival happening at the end this month (August 30), David Mendelsohn reveals how he met and photographed one of America’s most famous alien abductees, Betty Hill.



When my wife, Wendy, and I first moved up here in 1974, it seemed that both New Mexico and New Hampshire were the national hotspots for UFO activity. We vividly recall, in 1976, seeing something strange circling Nottingham Lake at night, then darting off so quickly that no human could withstand those Gs. Ten minutes later, two fighters from Pease arrived. That same year, we attended a small ET conference at UNH that featured Betty Hill. She was charming, quite believable and even managed a laugh as two frat boys took their seats halfway through, wearing hastily cobbled costumes consisting of space blankets, tin foil and rabbit ear television antennas.

In the early nineties, Wendy and I began gathering folks with diverse backgrounds for dinners that we’d host. The exchanges were always pretty amazing. Sadly, no recordings were made nor any records kept. One particular evening involved a painter, a surgeon, a mortician and Betty. She quickly became the central spirit among us, not through any need on her part, but simply because we all realized that any stories or insights we might have would pale against hers. I remember Betty being gracious in recounting, in detail and with relish, her abduction experience, a story she must have told hundreds of times before. I remember all of us hanging on her every word. I recall a spirited Q and A. I also remember that absolutely no one left there a skeptic.

During that period I was shooting large-format, black and white portraits as a personal project so I invited Betty to the studio. All alone under that dark cloth, on the ground glass I saw her, chain smoking, her face acid-etched in character. I could almost detect constellations in her pores. When I was content that we’d shot what we came for, Betty revealed something to me about her experience. She told me that only two other people on the planet knew what she was about to tell me. She asked that I tell no one. It was a gift. To this day, not even my wife knows. As encounters go, I have met only one abductee. I am glad mine was Betty.

Betty Hill departed Earth in 2004, taking her secrets with her, but her presence will certainly hover over this year’s Exeter UFO Festival on August 30. David Mendelsohn still takes his remarkable portraits in Seacoast NH. You can see some of his work at davidm.com.

 

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