Fairyland's Hunters: Notes Towards a Revisionist History of Abductions. Part Two

Peter Rogerson
Magonia 47, September 1994

A study of the literature, even at my fairly superficial level, shows that far from being a unique event, the Hill abduction was just one of a number of such stories to have emerged in the early 1960s. The best publicised case before the publication of the Hill and Villas Boas stories, and the one which softened up the UFO community for the Hill story was the disappearance of Rivalino Mafra da Silva in August 1962, a story resonant with motifs of taboo and vengeful fairies.
Rivalino was aid to have seen them, in the shape of two dwarfs, about their secret work. For this impiety he was haunted by small, shapeless, inhuman beings who entered through the closed door of his house, calling out his name, while a neighbour saw sphere above his house. ‘They’ told him he would be killed and that ‘prayer would be of no avail’. And indeed, next day he was taken by the two spheres under the eyes of his boys. [1]

Thus we see the imagery of ‘The other’ as being part of the implacable forces of the outer wildness, against which no wall is protection. This Brazilian miner was said to have been not the only South American taken that year, for the APRO Bulletin of January 1963 reported the kidnapping of an Argentine football referee, Telemaco Xavier, who was taken by three men who came out of a silvery disc. [2] the Little People of old were said to take sides in terrestrial battles; perhaps their descendants do the same with soccer matches.

Other stories of the period show how artificial the line between abduction and contactee stories really is. For example, in 1962 there appeared in Switzerland the story of Hans Klotzbach [3] of which only a fragmentary English language version exists [4]. The central theme seems to be that Hans passed out after injuring his legs from jumping off a moving train. He recovered consciousness in the illuminated blue interior of a UFO, where undescribed beings healed his legs while warning of impending terrestrial catastrophes. He then fell unconscious again, recovering by the railway track, his legs covered in blood, but uninjured.


The story of Olaf Nielsen also shows a mixture of motifs. Walking near Halmstad in Sweden, in a lonely spot between woods and fields, he found himself"caught as it were in a dizziness and sucked up into the air." About 20 m. above the ground was a strange object and he felt himself drawn into it as he passed out. When he came to he was lying on a couch in a small cabin of pale-green colour, illuminated by a faint, diffuse, sourceless light. A human-type being entered to room and apologised for abducting him. He was then taken to a subterranean base where he was shown several ‘saucers’ and told about a protective magnetic curtain they were setting up to protect themselves from the hostile ‘Dark Ones’ from Orion. There were many other bases in Central Asia, Latin America, etc. In the latter case they had adapted pre-Inca to their own needs [5]

Another transitional tale is that of the Florentine tailor Mario Zuccala, who in the twilight of nine o’clock on an April evening was walking home through a wood when, at a crossroad clearing where the path crossed a small canal, he felt himself struck by a sharp gust of wind. An object like an inverted bowl passed overhead and came close to the ground about 6 – 7 m. away. From its underside came a cylinder, which opened up revealing a diffuse white light from which two beings emerged. They were 1.5 m. tall, dressed in metallic suits wearing helmets surmounted by antennae. They took hold of the witness gently under his armpits and led him into the empty interior of the object, which was lit by the same diffuse light. He was unable to make out any details of the interior.

They then let go of him, as a voice "… from the inner part of the object … like one amplified by a microphone and as if resounding in a vast space" spoke to him in Italian. The only part Zuccala could remember was a message that at the fourth moon they would return at one in the morning to give him a message for humanity. He was then escorted out of the object and somehow found himself outside his own door. His wife heard four loud knocks which he does not remember making, and found him terrified on the front porch. He was very nervy that night. No traces were found at the site. Zuccala later claimed to have been contacted again and to have been given half a massage which he kept in a locked case, the other half being given to someone in another European country. [6]

Many of the investigators considered the story, at least in pat, a hoax for publicity, which supposition is rather strengthened by the similarity of the described beings to those in the notorious Monguzzi fake photographs – in which case it is interesting to see how folklore motifs introduce the story: the supernaturals meet at the crossroads and their arrival is announced by a fairy wind. Then there is that public address system, a motif not to surface again until the stories told by David Jacobs. Both Nielsen and Zuccala introduce the diffuse light, while the former case has the classic ‘doorway amnesia’.

It might be thought that after the detailed studies by Sheaffer [7], Kottmeyer [8] and Spencer [9] there would be little further to say about the Hill’s own story; this turns out not to be the case. Take for example, the news background. The weeks preceding the night of 19 – 20 September 1961 were ones of great tension, which may well have affected the politically active and ware Hills rather more than many of their more apathetic fellow citizens.
On 15 August the Berlin Wall had been thrown up, with a further flare-up of tension during 8 - 10 September. On 31 August the Soviet Union ended its nuclear test moratorium and next day exploded a ‘substantial’ nuclear device, with further tests on 4 and 5 September. On the sixteenth the United States resumed its tests. There were other unnerving events. On 1 September 78 people had been killed in an airliner crash at Hinsdale, Illinois (the fourth worst in the USA to that date). On 5 September there was an assassination attempt on President De Gaulle. Next day Kennedy made a speech praising the desegregation attempts at Little Rock High School. On 11 September Hurricane Clara, the fiercest in over sixty years, struck Texas, and a United Automobile Workers strike started. The Katanga crisis exploded on the 13th, and that led to the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in a (probably non-accidental) plane crash on the 18th. [10]

The final event must have had a special poignancy for the Hills, members of their church’s United Nations committee, an added depression as they drove home, dog-tired, racing ahead of a feared hurricane. We must not forget that Barney in particular must have been very stressed indeed. He was worried about a forthcoming ulcer operation, and despite believing that the ulcer was caused by a gruelling 120-mile daily round trip to and from Boston, he chose to take a weekend break, not relaxing at home but making an unplanned an ill-thought-out marathon car trip to Canada, which ended as mentioned above in an all-night drive home ahead of the hurricane and with an empty wallet. [11]

Anyone who reads Barney’s encounter in the field with the light must suspect that his extreme reaction was more likely to have been a symptom of preexisting post-traumatic stress than something new. His description of the alien as having a Mongolian-type face, wearing a sort of leather jacket and a scarf is curiously reminiscent of a kamikaze pilot. This figure is also seen as an evil Nazi officer and an Irishman (Boston Irish, traditionally hostile to Blacks). In other words, reflected in the unknown light, Barney sees images of evil authority, intolerance and threat. It would be very interesting to know just where his war service was.

Anyone who reads Barney’s encounter must suspect that his extreme reaction was more likely to have been a symptom of preexisting post-traumatic stress. The abductor seen by Barney Hill are figures representing images of evil authority, intolerance and threat
Barney’s panic undoubtedly led to the period of so-called missing time. In fact there was no missing time. Barney had estimated his 2.00 a.m. – 3.00 a.m. arrival time on the basis of ‘speeds up to 65 miles an hour’ on the freeway, and ‘fifty to fifty-five, even if this should be a shade above the limit’ on the minor roads. In fact, once the strange light had caught there attention they spent much time dawdling along looking at it; got out along the route, ran the dog in the woods, looked at the object through binoculars, then caries on ‘stopping briefly’ several times before the final stop and panic. After this neither was in any frame of mind to notice where they were going, and a number of detours and wrong routes were possible, though probably not necessary, to swallow up much more than two missing hours.

Fears about nuclear testing seem a more likely source of concern about radiation on the car than spaceships, and it must be remembered that the published account of this case is based on the Hill’s memories and interpretations in 1965 after months of association with ufology and ‘investigators’.

As the Hills retold the story the strangeness escalated. In her first report to the Air Force Betty Hill made no mention of the occupants. A week later in a letter to Donald Keyhoe they were introduced as ‘ the size of a pencil at arm’s length and wearing uniforms’. (A pencil at arm’s length? An obvious exaggeration.)

Betty had already read Keyhoe’s Flying Saucer Conspiracy, and as we saw earlier this contained a number of hints about aliens kidnapping people, but other features were also of interest. Betty describes her dream alien as having ‘a larger chest than us’, a feature which persisted into the hypothesis, and years later she was talking of large chests and frail bodies. It is perhaps significant that on page 207 of Flying Saucer Conspiracy Keyhoe refers to projectionist Willi Hodge’s alleged encounter with beings with ‘thickset bodies, oversized heads and delicate legs’. In view of later developments it is also interesting to note that Keyhoe mentions a race of (human) pygmies with (supposedly) strange eyes. Flying Saucer Conspiracy was not the only book Betty read, for we can see another influence in her early, more human, dream descriptions of the aliens.

Look at Betty’s dream description of ‘their complexions were of a grey tone, like grey paint with a black base, their lips were of a bluish tint … Hair and eyebrows were very dark, possibly black. The men were all dressed alike … [in] a light blue navy colour with a grey shade in it. They wore trousers and short jackets, that gave the impression of zippered sports jackets but I am not aware of any zippers or buttons. Shoes were the low, slip-on style resembling a boot. They were all wearing military caps similar to the Air force, but not so broad on top"

Compare this description with the following:

" … they all seemed to be wearing some sort of uniform unfamiliar to me. All but two or three of them wore black-billed caps with a black band around the bottom … bare headed one’s hair was black and crewcut. [They] wore jackets like cowboys and trousers of a material which reflected a bluish-grey cast under the bright moonlight. Their dark olive hued faces were bland and without lines or blemishes and their skin was taut and hard over the bone structure". [12]

The second description was from Truman Bethurum’s Aboard a Flying Saucer and the similarities are such as to make it near certain that Betty must have read it. No doubt she consciously dismissed it as nonsense but the influence on her dream is clear. Perhaps the physical description is not the only influence that Bethurum had on the Hills and general abduction lore. Bethurum was technically an abductee as the beings’ ‘invitation’ on board was pretty forceful. They are described a being just shorter than himself, a Hill feature also. Bethurum’s story contains many of the features that were to occur in later abduction stories: the absurd conversations, the evasiveness of them with ridiculous claims as to their origin as ‘the planet Clarion beyond the moon’, the fairytale atmosphere with quotes such as ‘our houses are our castles in a faraway land’, and ‘I expect to be around for thousands of years but the water in your deserts will mostly be tears’. Like the Hill humanoids, Truman’s Aura Rhanes seemed to have no conception of time and distance.

Of course, Bethurum’s tale of Aura Rhanes and her wonderful ‘scow’ is absurd, but it is the absurdity of dreams, and it seems clear that Bethurum’s early experiences at least were just that. In fact at one point in his naive book Bethurum tells us how he met Aura in a restaurant where she ignored him. No doubt the girl in the restaurant was quite real and quite terrestrial, and Bethurum in his loneliness incorporated her into his dreams and fantasies. Only later, as he tried to get social support from George Adamski did his tale take on elements of a more traditional contactee story.

While the Hill’s were debating about their ‘missing time’ a missing time episode appeared in the UFO literature, in an article by Leslie Lorenzen in Flying Saucers for November 1962 [13]. This concerned a private Gerry Irwin who had periods of amnesia and eventually went AWOL after witnessing a ‘plane crash’ of which no traces were found. The Lorenzen’s clearly interpreted this ‘crash’ as some sort of UFO incident, thus perhaps making this the first missing time incident to be published in the United States. Missing time, abduction and medical examination all featured together in a piece of fiction, ‘Control Somnambule’ by William Sambrot, which appeared in the May 1962 issue of Playboy. In this story an astronaut is abducted from a space capsule, given a medical examination with the hypnotic command to forget all about it, which he does until his memory is stimulated by hypnosis. [14]

The array of abduction stories generated in the three years 1964 – 1966, from Barney Hill’s first hypnotic session to the mass publication of the Hill story, continues to show both a wide variation of theme and the thin borderland between abduction and contactee reports. For example, there is little doubt that Ernest Arthur Bryant’s meeting with Yamski in 1965 would today have been called an abduction by ufologists, though the influence of Adamski is overt. Its central theme, that of the dead among the fairies, is a very rare one in ufology (I know of only one other case from the Dominican Republic). Bryant had already had time, following the publication of the AVB case in Flying Saucer Review, to incorporate a reference to ‘them’ coming here to procreate. [15]

The same year saw the publication in the 25 Augusts edition of Diario de Noticias of an alleged 1954 meeting with tall slim beings of both sexes, with fair hair, light brown complexions and dark slanted eyes, who showed the witness round their small craft. They explained its workings, and claimed to be from Arion ‘beyond the furthest known star’. [16] Again, the influence of Adamski can be seen.

A more genuinely transitional story was that of Arthur Berlet, whose alleged 1958 encounter surfaced in 1965. The story begins with classic abduction motifs: stunned by a beam of light, doorway amnesia, wakes up on a bed in a strange environment. Thereafter the story trails off into an exceptionally dull narrative of his adventures on the planet Acart (Mars), to where he had been abducted by an insubordinate saucer captain who wanted him to tend the biological specimens. On Acart the contrite leadership gave him a guided tour while expounding on the population explosion. [17]

Overpopulation was one of the themes in another 1965 story, that of the Californian TV repair man Sid Patrick. Walking along a beach at night he saw an egg-shaped object flying low. He was invited on board where he met a crew of people of both sexes with dark ‘short but uncut-looking hair’, pointed chins and long thin fingers. One of them, the leader, spoke to him. Bullard’s motifs of tour, journey, conference and theophany followed. During the tour, the evasive leader always kept his right side towards Patrick, who noted that all surfaces in the uniformly lit interior were rounded. There was a ‘third layer’ to which he was not invited, but he was shown a sort of screen or lens in which he saw a cigar-shaped navigation craft.

The ‘leader’ gave his name, but it was nothing more than a buzzing sound, variously transcribed as Zno, Zienna or Zeno. They are insectoid and they ‘live as one’ in a war- and crime-free, but highly regimented world with strict birth control. Their children are trained for set tasks on ‘an unseen world at the back of the one we do see’. They do not measure time and distance as we do. They took Patrick up onto a mountain top where he was allowed to walk alone. The beings said they were on a mission of exploration, but he got the impression there was some unfathomable ‘religious’ aspect to it, and he had a mystical experience in a sort of chapel. [18]

Even in the rather fragmentary and sometimes contradictory published versions of this story we can see several of the themes of post-secular abduction lore. We can see in their ambiguous Utopia the cusp point between the Utopias of the contactees and the wasteland dystopias of the abductees We should note also the influence of Truman Bethurum on this story as well as on the Hills’: the planet behind the known; the regimented society; the absence of knowledge of time and distance.

The divide between contactee and abductee is not very apparent either, in a 1965 letter sent to Dr Frank Salisbury, the botanist and ufologist, by a semi-literate 19-year-old shipping clerk who claimed to have been taken from his house in a glassy sphere, to a large black object where he met a 6-foot 7-inch tall leader and a ‘beautiful copper-skinned girl’ with blonde hair and blue eyes, who wore black uniforms with disc-shaped shoulder pads and serpent motifs on the pockets. [19]

Other stories portrayed abductors or potential abductors in a decidedly more hostile mode. Argentine newspapers in February 1965 reported the story of an attempted kidnapping in Torrent in which the motif of size-shifting reappears – 50cm dwarfs who grew to 2.2m. tall as they tried to kidnap members of a farming family whose rifle failed. They were supposed to have returned days later as cyclopean giants [20]

British newspapers reported a story of three young people in a car parked near Felixstowe, when one lad suddenly left the car. Shortly afterwards his companions saw an orange oval above the trees and heard a buzzing sound. The young man who had left the car then staggered into the road and collapsed. They found burn marks on his back and a small lump under his right ear. He was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed as suffering from shock. On recovering he claimed he had been dragged from the car by an unknown force and seen a man in flames pointing at him. [21]

The Italian magazine Oltre il Cielo reported two stories from the Soviet Union. In one of them a woman parachutist was supposed to have been caught in mid-descent by a saucer with three occupants, taken on an immense journey to look back at the Earth, and given a message in an envelope to take back to the authorities. In the other story a mail-plane was supposed to have vanished and then found on the ground without crew, and with a circular mark nearby. [22]
This case seems pivotal to the UFO debate. If the strange lights were truly anonymous we would
have to admit the balance had tipped against the
psychosocial approach
There is one final story from this period. Right at the beginning of Dr Simon’s treatment of the Hills in April 1964 a story appeared in an American newspaper, was reprinted in a small-circulation bulletin, and even, in a bowdlerised form, in a well-known UFO periodical. It may well be the most interesting story of them all. We have all seen how Hopkins, Jacobs and company report case after case of people telling them they were abducted as little children, and we’ve asked where is the contemporary evidence. Well just maybe this case provides it. It is a case that cries out for reinvestigation, yet there are overwhelming ethical objections to anything except the most delicate approaches, for one of the witnesses was a tiny child at the time and it is likely that he has retained no conscious memory of the event. The trauma that might be caused by a clod-footed investigation are obvious.

An attempt is being made by an American correspondent to try to track down anyone who may have investigated the story at the time, so far without success. To protect the witness, neither the place, the state, nor the sources will be publicly revealed. Suffice to say that it appears to have taken place in a rural area outside a town in the north central United States. This case seems pivotal to the UFO debate. If the strange lights were truly anonymous we would have to admit the balance had tipped against the psychosocial approach

Quoting from the original article:
Mr and Mrs [John Doe] who live on the side of a mountain, say the object has landed within a few hundred yards of their home and aimed a powerful light beam through their windows ‘in an apparent attempt to see what we look like.’ [Their] young grandson told them he has talked to a man who apparently came from the craft. (Mrs Doe didn’t even tell her husband till it appeared one night when he was at home). [They describe it as] ‘a top-shaped ship with a row of lights around the circumference’. (This is a fluorescent light which can fluctuate between dim and very bright.) One evening as the Does were watching the ship, an airplane approached and the object’s lights immediately went out. As the airplane passed the lights went back on … A strong beam of light projected from the ship late one night as Mrs Doe and her daughter ‘Emma’ slept in the front part of the house. They both awakened to see the beam of light about three inches in diameter pointing at their feet at the end of the bed. They both rose and … the light followed them around the room … Mrs Doe thinks the occupants of the craft were trying to see what human life looks like. (The full brightness of the light turns night into day.)

Before the April appearances of the object Mrs Doe’s place was constantly visited by wild game, including deer [and] bear … since that time no animals have been seen in the area … each occurrence of the craft ‘scared the dogs and spooked the horses’. The dogs rushed to get into the house and the horses stampeded to the far side of the property. Mr and Mrs doe say the object makes no real sound but rather gives the impression of a noise. Mrs Doe says: It’s more like cessation of normal sound – almost like it’s making a very loud noise which blocks off all other sounds, but still doesn’t seem to be making a sound itself". In addition there is another indication of the presence of the object; each time [it] is in the area the oil furnace in the house lights itself. (Mrs Doe checks the furnace to see if the object is near). 
Mrs Doe’s three-and-a-half year old son ‘Richard’ has told his mother and his grandparents of a man with whom he talks in the barn. He has told them the man’s name, but Mrs doe says it is almost unpronounceable … Each time the boy has gone with the man the dogs have run into the house and the oil furnace has lighted. (The object goes away from time to time, these absences coinciding with reports in neighbouring localities. Mrs Doe is convinced that the object is ‘not of this world’, ‘probably friendly’ and ‘we have nothing to be frightened of.) 
Other odd situations accompany the presence of the object. Mrs Doe and her neighbours reported TV transmissions (from a local transmitter) ‘completely disrupted when the ship is near. Mrs Doe also said various personal articles have strangely disappeared for a short time then, just as suddenly reappeared. Mrs Doe’s sunglasses and several personal items of clothing ‘have just vanished’ then shown up again in a different place". [23]
There you are: animal reactions; the Enchantment; electromagnetic effects, poltergeists and abductions altogether, as though this was Hopkins ufology full of repeater, haunting abductions and night sieges. 1964 ufology had no way of handling material like this. In a sense this case seems pivotal to the UFO debate. If a careful, competent investigation on the 1960s had shown the strange lights to be truly anomalous then we would have to admit that the scales had tipped against the psychosocial approach. On the other hand, if investigation had confirmed what ufological experience suggests – that reports of UFOs seen night after night turn out to be astronomical IFOs – was so in this case, we should have come close to proving the psychosocial approach. It seems to be typical of the whole subject that it is unlikely such a resolution can be made.

However one interprets this story, it seems to mark a point at which pre-existing supernatural beliefs are being incorporated into ufology. A generation earlier, spooked animals, enchantment, disappearing children and electromagnetic effects would have been interpreted in terms of witchcraft, fairies or ghosts; now it is space-people.

I hope that this study of abductions before the mass publicity given to the Hills and AVB in October 1966 shows just how false is the notion of the ‘founding case’ – or two cases, or even three cases. The abduction stories emerged slowly and covered a wide range of motifs. Why then did the Hills’ story gain such eminence? Suggestions we might make include its publication by a well-known journalist, the use of hypnosis which not only invoked myths of the royal road to truth – the belief that one cannot lie under hypnosis – but also gave the impression of a story reluctantly dragged out of the witnesses.

Continue to Part Three

  1. UFO Reporter, number 1, ‘A Supplement to Jessup’s Case for the UFO‘ cf. Leonard Stringfield, Inside Saucer Post 3-0 Blue, CRIFO, 1957, p.91
  2. First published in Diario de Minas, 26 August 1962. Widely publicized by Coral Lorenzen in, e.g. APRO Bulletin, September 1962; FSR Nov/Dec 1962; Fate, June 1963
  3. Hans P Klotsbach, Der Urwelt unde Entgegen: ein UFO rettete mein leben. Lucern. Verlag Rolphe Koch, 1962. Eberhard case 8712.
  4. Gordon Creighton, ‘Healing from Saucers’, op. cit.
  5. Gordon Creighton, ‘The Italian UFO Scene, part 4′, in FSR 9,4, July-August 1963, pp.10-11
  6. Ceccarelli Silvano, ‘Mario Zuccala’s strange encounter’ in FSR 9,4, July-August 1962
  7. Robert Schaefer, The UFO Verdict, Prometheus, 1981, chapter 5
  8. Martin Kottmeyer, ‘Entirely Unpredisposed’, in Magonia 35, January 1990, pp. 3 – 10
  9. John Spencer, Perspectives, Macdonald, 1990
  10. Facts on File, The 1960s, Day by Day
  11. John Fuller, The Interrupted Journey, appendix 1, p.296 – 7
  12. Truman Bethurum, op.cit. pp. 34 – 5
  13. Jim Lorenzen, ‘Where is Private Irving?’, in Flying Saucers, 28, November 1962, p.28; quoted in Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia.
  14. Quoted in Jacques Vallee, Confrontations, Souvenir Press, 1990, p.190.
  15. Eileen Buckle, The Scoriton Mystery, Spearman, 1967.
  16. Gordon Creighton, ‘The Ruben Helwig Contact Claim’, FSR 12,6, Nove – Dec 1966, pp.27 – 29
  17. Arthur Berlet, Discos Voladores; de Utopia a realidade, Puerto Allegre, Argentina, published by the author. Translated as UFO Contact from Planet Acart, UFO Photo Archives, 1987.
  18. Compiled from: Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, The Unidentified, Warner, 1975, pp.228 – 30; ‘Two New Contacts’, FSR, 11,3, May – June 1965, pp. 228 – 30; Jim Lorenzen, UFO Occupants, p.21
  19. Frank B Salisbury, The Utah UFO Display, Devin-Adair, 1974, pp.145-48
  20. INTCAT files, information supplied by Richard Heiden; from Antonio Ribera, Platillos Volantes en Iberoamerica y Espana. Compare with: Gordon Creighton, ‘The humanoids in Latin America’, in The Humanoids, op. cit., pp.109 – 110
  21. [Gordon Creighton] ‘Knock-out blow at Felixstowe’ in FSR, 11,6, November – December 1965, p.4, quoting Ipswich Evening Star, 21 December 1965
  22. Brad Steiger and Joan Writenour, Flying Saucers are Hostile, Tandem, 1967
  23. INTCAT files, sources being kept confidential to protect witnesses.