For many people, stories of UFOs and aliens are pretty compelling. Yet, for others, they’re pretty hard to believe. After all, though tales of extraterrestrial encounters and mysterious things spotted in the sky abound, few people have come forward with tangible proof of this phenomenon. Whether that’s because of a wide conspiracy or a simple sign that none of this is real must be left up to the individual, at least currently. But, as with any spooky field of study, there’s bound to be plenty of debate regardless.
And, when it comes to tales of alien abduction, that debate is alive and well. While someone’s tale of a strange light in the sky may be easily understood or dismissed, a story of being taken into an otherworldly craft and interacting with its non-human occupants is far wilder. Many accounts related by these alleged alien abductees are easily dismissed by nonbelievers, given that there’s precious little physical evidence involved and the people themselves might be dismissed as unreliable or unstable.
Yet, there are a few stories of alien abductions that give many people pause. Some have multiple witnesses, tangible evidence, or center on people who have no history of tall tales or mental instability. Are they enough to convince the most dedicated skeptics? Perhaps not. But for some, these alien abduction tales might be just convincing enough to make you think twice about your disbelief. Maybe the truth really is out there somewhere.
Betty and Barney Hill presented an arresting story
According to History, Betty and Barney Hill were driving through rural New Hampshire late in the evening of September 19, 1961. At some point during their trip, they spotted lights that seemed to follow their car. When they returned home, they realized their watches had stopped and their clothes were damaged in an odd manner. A later visit with a psychiatrist led to their recollection of a stressful, even painful encounter with alien beings who had taken them into an otherworldly craft to experiment upon them.
There are some issues, however. As QZ notes, the encounter happened after the couple had been traveling for hours and were sleep deprived. They also worked stressful jobs; Barney even suffered from an ulcer. Their stress may well have been compounded by the overt racism of the time, too. Barney was Black and Betty was white. In many states, their marriage was still illegal and, according to their later book, a waitress had already had an undefined but apparently unpleasant “reaction” to serving the couple earlier in the trip.
Betty, for her part, was already interested in the growing UFO phenomenon, perhaps priming her to interpret their experience as an alien encounter. Others note that they could have even been influenced by a recently aired episode of “The Outer Limits.” Still, it’s hard to dismiss some of the physical evidence and the testimonies from the couple, who clearly believed they had gone through a traumatic abduction.
Antônio Villas Boas had a very close encounter with an alien
Antônio Villas Boas’ account, as related by NPR, starts off on his remote farm in 1957. He maintains that he was working the tractor in his field when an alien craft approached. A group of small extraterrestrials took him into their ship and placed him in a room, where an odd gas made him ill. An apparently female alien then entered the room and proceeded to have an amorous encounter with the farmer, which Villas Boas later interpreted as an attempt to produce an alien-human hybrid.
It would all be the stuff of pulp science fiction, except for the odd wounds. After he returned home, says “A World of UFOs,” Villas Boas noticed “sores and purplish marks,” on his body, which were also noted by doctors. He also reported an unusual pattern of waking and sleeping, sometimes nodding off in the middle of the day, sometimes waking at night after vivid nightmares.
Despite press attention, Villas Boas remained reluctant to speak with anyone about the encounter. He finally spoke to a Brazilian television show in 1978, apparently tired of the many wild stories that had been built up around his original encounter. Villas Boas certainly came off as a reliable witness, having become a successful lawyer and family man in the country’s capital by the time of his interview. That, combined with his reported physical symptoms, makes his abduction story more compelling than many others.
Whitley Streiber wrote a book about his traumatic experience
It may be easy for many to dismiss Whitley Strieber’s abduction story. He is, as New Scientist reported in 1988, a fiction author who specialized in horror and thriller novels before publishing “Communion: A True Story,” which he claimed was a true account of his real meetings with extraterrestrial “visitors.” Said visitors experimented on him in his upstate New York cabin, leaving Strieber confused and traumatized. Strieber’s subsequent rounds of the TV talk show circuit and other promotional opportunities helped catapult his book to bestseller status, further leading many to wonder if the “true” story was yet another yarn that he had fabricated for clout and financial gain.
Ask Strieber himself, though, and he will maintain that his experiences were very, very real. And Texas Monthly notes that even his most strident critics rarely accuse him outright of lying, more often resorting to the idea that Strieber may have a neurological or psychological issue that’s out of his control. And then there’s the matter of physical evidence, which is either missing or highly dubious. Yet, many are struck by Strieber’s apparent honesty, or at least his consistent and strong belief in what he says happened to him.
So, is Strieber a credible witness or a fabulist whose imagination may have gotten the better of him? The answer to that question may be more difficult to come by than you think, especially depending on who you ask.
Val Johnson experienced missing time
While many alien abduction and encounter stories are centered on so-called “regular” people, what about one that involves a seemingly credibly officer of the law? For many, the story related by Minnesota sheriff’s deputy Val Johnson is intriguing in part because the man who told the story was, by all accounts, an even-keeled officer with no record of wild tales.
Per MPR News, Johnson was a Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy who was on patrol in the wee hours of August 26, 1979. While driving on a rural road, he saw what he described as a ball of light about a foot in diameter, floating off the ground. Johnson approached the light in his car, but then suddenly found himself in a ditch with a cracked windshield. Further examination showed that, not only had about half an hour passed without his knowledge, but Johnson was also sporting odd burns around his eyes. It also later came out that both his watch and the clock on the cruiser’s dashboard were 14 minutes slow.
The missing time and burns may make some wonder if the sheriff’s deputy had a far closer encounter with the unknown than a mere sighting. Where exactly did he go in those 30 minutes? Johnson himself remained aloof from the whole thing, declining to say that he had an encounter with something out of this world. As he told MPR News, “It’s unexplainable, and will remain so. I’m happy with my mental stability.”
The Pascagoula Abduction left a serious mark on two people
It was supposed to be a simple fishing trip on the Pascagoula River in Pascagoula, Mississippi for friends Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson. But, according to their accounts, the events of October 11, 1973 went from easygoing to terrifying in short order, and all because of what may have been some mysterious extraterrestrial visitors. According to the Clarion Ledger, the two were fishing off a pier in a derelict shipyard after work. As the sun set, Parker recalls that he saw a strange blue light, first reflected in the water and then, when he looked up, emanating from a strange, hovering craft.
Soon, says Parker, three beings came out of the craft and took the two men back into their ship, where they examined Parker and Hickson. Eventually, the beings deposited the men back onto the pier and left. They later reported it to local authorities and were given sobriety and lie detector tests, which the pair both passed, per Parker’s account.
Perhaps most compelling is that, while Hickson seemed happy to speak with reporters and gave lectures, his friend was far more reluctant to relive that night. In fact, Parker appeared haunted by his experience, going to great lengths to avoid speaking about it for many years, to the point where he moved and changed jobs. However, he did attend some conventions and attempted to run a short-lived UFO production company, per the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
People who came across the Berkshires UFO don't want to call it an abduction
While some people who have claimed to experience close encounters with extraterrestrials are apparently fine with calling their experiences “abductions,” that terminology can be troubling for others. Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, who courted controversy by working with people who claimed to be alien abductees, instead referred to his patients as “experiencers” (via PBS).
That may be a better term as far as Thomas Reed is concerned. As MassLive reports, he has been notoriously reluctant to refer to his 1969 UFO encounter in the rural Berkshires region of Massachusetts as an “abduction,” though it certainly shares traits with other accounts. As Reed tells it, he was a child when his family — consisting of himself, his younger brother, mother, and grandmother — encountered a strange light while driving over a bridge. “Now, we do remember being in what looked like an airplane hangar,” he told MassLive. “We didn’t stay in the car. We were removed from the vehicle, that’s true. Where we were, I don’t know.”
The Boston Globe reports that Reed claimed that he encountered two “ant-like creatures” and was placed in a cage before finding himself back in the car. Reed eventually claimed that his encounters with aliens had begun when he was only six years old. As an adult, he’s experienced significant resistance and ridicule, leading some to wonder if there’s some truth to it all as Reed sticks by his story.
Terrell Copeland presents some interesting claims
Most alien abductees or experiencers seem to accept the near certainty that their stories will not be accepted by the public at large. Their accounts are pretty wild, after all, given that they argue not only for the existence of intelligent alien beings who are visiting our planet, but that the same beings are invested in observing and experimenting upon select humans. That’s at least the position of one Terrell Copeland, a former Marine who nonetheless presents a pretty compelling figure for many, given his military background and current quiet life as a warehouse worker.
Plus, according to ABC, he reportedly took video footage of a UFO as observed from his apartment and posted it to YouTube, though the link has since become elusive. He also claims to have been visited by mysterious beings and experienced missing time after the sighting, to the point where he began keeping a written log of his experiences.
Eventually, per the Suffolk News Herald, Copeland came out with a broader story of alien abduction, beginning with UFO sightings while he was still a teenager. Now, he says, the aliens have often put him in a paralytic state and observe him thusly. His claim that he’s an alien-human hybrid may put his story a step too far beyond believability for many, however. Yet, while Copeland’s wilder claims of spiritual connections with aliens and impending extraterrestrial interference in human affairs may seem like much, his more concrete claims are still intriguing.
Travis Walton has presented a consistent story over the decades
While single-person abduction stories can be compelling or at least interesting, it’s something else to come across one that has seven different witnesses. That’s what happened when, according to the CBC, a seven-man logging crew was traveling through the forest near Snowflake, Arizona in 1975. When the group spotted a strange, seemingly alien craft floating in the woods, young Travis Walton was the only one to approach it. After he was seemingly knocked out by a blue light, the rest of the crew sped off in the truck. Walton went missing for nearly a week, until he was found disoriented and about 10 pounds lighter at a gas station in the area.
When he became more coherent, Walton had an extraordinary tale to tell. He claimed to have been taken aboard the ship, where he met extraterrestrial beings who looked “nearly human” and wore what appeared to be workman’s coveralls. At some point, he got a glimpse of the view outside the ship. “I could see stars all around,” he later said, “but no planet or sun or anything like that. So at some distance from this solar system” (via CBC).
So, what makes Walton’s story compelling? For one, there are the other six witnesses who saw his initial encounter. And, for what it’s worth, Walton’s account has remained fairly consistent throughout the intervening years, without much of the embellishments and elaborations that have damaged the credibility of others’ tales.
Terry Lovelace isn't just some UFO obsessive
Certain achievements in a person’s life mark them as generally reliable, at least to most people in the wider general public. Consider Terry Lovelace, who, as per the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, not only served in the U.S. Air Force, but also earned a law degree, worked with the state attorney general, and appears by all accounts to be a stable and loving family man. He’s also been abducted by aliens, he says.
According to Lovelace, he didn’t realize that his nightmares and phobias could have an otherworldly explanation until a doctor reportedly investigated some knee pain and found a strange piece of metal embedded in Lovelace’s leg. It was especially odd considering he’d never had surgery, hadn’t seen combat, and couldn’t recall being injured there. The medical incident started a chain of events that led the seemingly strait-laced lawyer to conclude that he’d been abducted by extraterrestrial beings.
Ultimately, Lovelace says that he started recalling incidents with aliens dating back as far back as his early childhood. The most dramatic appears to have taken place at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas, where an adult Lovelace camped on a rock peak with a friend. There, he says, they were taken aboard a spacecraft and experimented upon. Later, Lovelace and his friend confirmed that it had happened to both of them, leaving two witnesses to a shared and striking alien abduction.
Frederick Valentich never returned from his possible abduction
The great majority of alien abduction stories require that the person in question returns to tell their story. Without that key component, how would we ever know that someone was reportedly taken by extraterrestrials? But, for some people, the fact that the central figure in this story is still missing may just lend credibility to the tale.
Frederick Valentich was a young pilot who was flying over Australia’s Bass Strait between the mainland and Tasmania on October 23, 1978, per Atlas Obscura. His trip in a light Cessna aircraft seemed routine, until Valentich started radioing to nearby Cape Otway. He alleged that an odd aircraft was hounding his plane. It had four bright lights, a metallic structure, and came close to his Cessna at what Valentich said were alarmingly fast speeds. It disappeared and then reappeared. His last communication said that “…it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.” Neither Valentich nor his plane were ever seen again.
There are some potentially troublesome details about Valentich’s story, however. Plane & Pilot notes that Valentich was “obsessed” with UFOs. He could have interpreted atmospheric phenomena or odd instrument readings as evidence of alien contact. He’d also repeatedly failed to pass pilot tests and couldn’t make it into the Royal Australian Air Force. While Valentich’s disappearance could be because of a crash into the Bass Strait caused by pilot error, many still wonder if he had a truly strange and potentially deadly abduction encounter.
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