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Chapter One: The Alien Abductors: Hiding -- And Sometimes Showing Off
When details of the first thoroughly investigated UFO abduction report -- the now famous Betty and Barney Hill case -- came to wide public attention in 1966, researchers made several deductions about the aliens' modus operandi. Since the incident occurred at night in a sparsely populated area of New Hampshire's White Mountains, it was assumed that the aliens had selected the time and location in order to reduce the chance of accidental witnesses. The full story of the Hills' abduction story has been told elsewhere and need not be repeated here, but for our purposes it is important to point out that in 1961, the year the incident actually occurred, investigators thought of it as a kind of cosmic commando raid in which speed and maximum concealment were central concerns. And when I later read about it in John Fuller's classic account and eventually accepted its validity, I agreed with this simple, military-type analysis.
Similar UFO abductions, if they happened at all, were most likely to be extremely rare, investigators later hypothesized, almost always taking place at night, in rural settings, so that they could be carried out unobserved. And among those who took the case seriously, most assumed that the Hills' abduction might well be the only such incident that had ever occurred. Apart from this unlucky couple who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, human beings were probably safe from such experiences.
As it turned out, all of these assumptions were wrong.
By the 1970's, as a few more abduction cases were reported and investigated, another pattern emerged that radically changed our thinking. In these accounts, several abductees reported that when the UFO occupants first approached them, people in their immediate vicinity suddenly appeared to have been "switched off" and put into a comalike state. These switched-off individuals were often described as sitting or standing rigidly in the postures they had been in when the aliens arrived on the scene. Their eyes were open, but they were obviously not registering what was taking place. Later, when the abduction ended, these potential witnesses began to move normally, recalling nothing of the incident but often aware that, mysteriously, several hours -- of which they had no memory -- had elapsed.
Thus we had a major new factor to consider in the aliens' ability to maintain the covert nature of their operations. They apparently possessed a technology by which potential witnesses could be prevented from seeing UFO occupants and observing the abduction of someone in their immediate vicinity -- even someone traveling in the same automobile. As an example of this newly discovered factor, one highly credible woman I once worked with, a mother of two and by profession an obstetrical nurse, described an experience she had had as a young student. In 1973, "Karen" was at a small party with about ten other young people, some of whom were also student nurses. Karen recalls that she was seated cross-legged on the couch, talking with her friends, relaxing, and listening to music. Though the young people were drinking beer, none of the student nurses were intoxicated.
In Karen's very next conscious memory she was in her car, driving along a local road just after sunrise, completely confused and disoriented. She stopped at a coffee shop and went in to try to calm herself, but the more she pondered the mystery of the nearly five missing hours, the more upset she became.
Later, when she was in her apartment and feeling less frightened, she called a friend who had been present at the party. He asked where she had gone. "I looked around and you weren't there. Nobody remembers seeing you leave. We figured you had just slipped out and gone home."
Some ten years later, Karen read Missing Time -- an apt title for her disturbing experience -- and wrote to me. We met in my studio on Cape Cod for a hypnotic regression session to explore the incidents of that night. We began with the party itself, when Karen sat cross-legged on the couch. Suddenly she felt herself begin to move involuntarily. Frightened and confused, she floated forward off the couch with her legs still folded in front of her. She tried to grab something to stop herself but realized that she could not move her arms. She was paralyzed and helpless.
Though she could not turn her head, her vision was unimpaired. All of the other people in the room were absolutely frozen in fixed positions. No one spoke. There was an eerie, total silence. She floated to, and then through, the closed front door. Several small alien beings were waiting outside and accompanied her into a UFO hovering above the street, and the abduction commenced.
UFO investigators have received hundreds of such reports in the past few decades, incidents in which abductees have described friends, family members, or even passing strangers as seeming to be switched off in just this manner, unaware of the abduction that is taking place in their presence, but often aware of an unrecalled period of missing time. Some people have noted particular physical consequences to having been "frozen" for an hour or so. In one case, "Ann," a young college student, was apparently switched off while her companion was abducted. Afterward, when things returned to normal and Ann could move, her eyes hurt so badly that her contact lenses felt like sandpaper. As she removed the lenses and lubricated her eyes, she wondered why this painful condition had developed so suddenly, seemingly in an instant. Years later, in separate hypnosis sessions, we explored the experience shared by Ann and her companion and she learned for the first time that she had been switched off -- unmoving and unblinking -- for an hour or so. Our eyes are naturally lubricated by a layer of moisture and the regular blinking action of the eyelids, so when that process was stopped, painful dryness resulted. This same condition has been reported to me by a number of other switched-off wearers of contact lenses.
To complicate the issue of abduction concealment even further, in later years a pair of extremely unusual UFO abductions have come to light that cast an interesting light on the patterns we have been considering. In these incidents, witnesses were not switched off but in fact saw and remembered the abduction -- or at least certain parts of its basic scenario. For some reason, in these cases the UFO occupants made virtually no attempt to hide their activities and in one instance -- the Linda Cortile case of 1989 -- apparently arranged things deliberately so that the abduction would be seen by numerous people, including several important political figures.
Earlier, in the 1975 Travis Walton case, seven young men in a double-cab truck were returning from work in a remote area near Snowflake, Arizona, when they sighted a large UFO hovering above the treetops off to one side of the road.3 The driver stopped and Walton, a passenger, jumped out for a closer look. As the men in the truck yelled for him to get back in, they saw a blue beam of light shoot from the craft and hit Walton, lifting him off the ground and knocking him backward. Terrified, the men drove off, only to collect themselves after a few minutes and return to search for their comrade. Walton had disappeared.
Frightened and in a state of near panic, Walton's fellow workers reported the incident to the police and a fruitless search was begun. Ultimately the witnesses were tested by an experienced polygraph operator and none showed any signs of deception. Five days later Travis Walton returned, dehydrated and disoriented, having been deposited by the UFO beside a nearby highway. Eventually he, too, passed a polygraph test about his abduction. Two decades later, in a reinvestigation of the case, the men were once again given polygraph tests. All passed.
What is important about the Walton case for our purposes is that it demonstrates what might happen if abductions were regularly observed and consciously recalled by independent witnesses, especially close friends or family members. Panic, terror, and an immediate call for help would be their predictable responses -- all of which run counter to the aliens' apparent need to operate covertly.
The Linda Cortile case, the subject of my book Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions, is an even more important instance of an abduction seen by numerous witnesses who also were not switched off but were able to watch Linda -- the abductee -- and three small alien figures float out the window of her twelfth-floor apartment and up into a hovering UFO. The story is extremely complex, with independent witnesses at six separate locations seeing all or part of the initial abduction events. Furthermore, each of these witnesses has described other witnesses to this abduction who were either switched off and do not remember the incident or, for one reason or another, have not wished either to contact me or to make themselves known. (Humiliation and ridicule, debunkers' basic methods of intimidating witnesses, are extremely effective.)
So we can assume that even though this incident took place around three A.M. and lasted only a minute or so, there must have been many people -- perhaps hundreds -- who also saw a truly "impossible" sight. Though it is difficult to put ourselves in the place of such witnesses, many rationalizations for not calling the police or the news media present themselves. One woman I interviewed, "Janet Kimball," was driving across the Brooklyn bridge when the craft turned on all its lights. She said that as the clearly visible UFO hovered above the building, shining down a bluish-white beam of light and levitating Linda Cortile and the aliens up into it, she thought she must be watching a movie being made. These are special effects, Janet thought to herself. "Some-one's always shooting a movie in New York," she told me. "It was so real, it looked fake."
The Linda Cortile case and the Travis Walton abduction suggest that the switching off of potential witnesses to conceal abductions is perhaps not always a viable tactic. But these two cases surely demonstrate that if people are allowed to observe and recall what they have seen, the basic alien strategy of concealment is dramatically undercut. As I stated earlier, I have investigated hundreds of reports from New York and other large cities, including Washington, D.C., London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, Istanbul, and Rio de Janeiro -- cases in which abductions were carried out successfully and covertly, even though there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of potential witnesses.
And so we come to the first question we must try to answer: If we accept the premise that it is preferable -- if not always possible -- for UFO occupants to carry out abductions covertly, by what methods do they effectively conceal their frequent abductions of city residents? How do operations that normally should be witnessed by thousands remain unseen?
Copyright © 2003 by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey