Published: 12:45 PM 12/29/2012
By Erin Duffy/The Times of Trenton
He goes by Dr. UFO. Former coworkers called him “The Spaceman.”
For more than half a century, Pat Marcattilio of Hamilton has had his eyes to the sky.
“It’s just been a favorite topic all my life for some reason,” he said. “I guess I’d just like to meet some other people from other planets.”
Hooked as a seventh-grader in 1955 by amateur astronomy, the emerging Space Race and the writings of Donald E. Keyhoe, a leader in the emerging world of UFO conspiracy theories, Marcattilio has parlayed his passion for the unusual and unexplained into a side gig as the president and founder of the New Jersey/Pennsylvania UFO Paranormal Study Group.
Since 1984, the group has been meeting in a conference room at the Hamilton Township Free Public Library the first Wednesday of every month.
Marcattilio first envisioned the meetings as gathering for like-minded people interested in the possibility of life on other planets. The meetings have since swelled to twice-yearly conferences. In April, Marcattilio will preside over his 53rd Great UFO/ET Congress.
“They come from all over — Maine, New Hampshire, Florida,” he said. “We’ve had people from California, from South America, from Canada. We’ve had people from South Africa, Germany, France, London. Mostly they’re all interested in UFOs, but now this year we’re just starting to get into paranormal and metaphysical consciousness, other things like that.”
Attendance at the monthly UFO and paranormal study groups actually seems to be growing, with 37 people attending a meeting last month where one woman gave a talk on the healing properties of magnets, Marcattilio said.
Researchers often attend or present findings on electromagnetic field scans from a supposedly haunted house or films of UFO sightings, he said.
Bolstered by a growing interest in cryptozoology (the search for legendary animals), alien conspiracies and paranormal experiences and the rash of TV shows devoted to documenting all that goes bump in the night — such as “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet and “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel — Marcattilio said the hobbies that once earned him more than a few strange looks are becoming more mainstream.
“People are really starting to dig in and get excited about these subjects,” he said.
Marcattilio has hundreds, if not thousands, of books devoted to astronomy, UFOs and what he calls “Earth mysteries,” but he’s done more than just read about flying saucers or alien abductions.
Since his first experience spying a UFO over the night sky in Trenton in 1963, he’s personally witnessed at least 20 UFOs and had dozens of paranormal experiences in one house, starting with a black shadow he and his wife saw gliding across his kitchen one morning years ago, he said.
He believes the government has tamped down information and evidence on UFOs for years, afraid the military would be embarrassed to admit it didn’t have full control over the skies. But the experiences he and thousands of others have had can’t be denied, he said.
“We think there’s a conspiracy that’s holding back a lot of information on UFOs,” he said. “If I’ve seen them the 20 times in my life, I know a lot of other people have seen them in their life, too.”