Peter Resta, a tweedy psychotherapist and 20-year Prince George’s County Community College psychology instructor, has never seen a space alien or a UFO.
He’s never seen oxygen, either, but he believes all three exist.
An Arnold resident, Mr. Resta feels the topic of aliens visiting Earth is a hot one that makes most people uncomfortable. But discussions and examination of evidence should take place in the open, not in top-secret bunkers, he said.
If Jack-o-lanterns, hobgoblins and ghosts are not scary enough to send chills up your spine this haunting time of year, perhaps Mr. Resta’s daylong workshop exploring the “mysteries of space and sky” will do the trick.
There was a good-natured twinkle in his eye as he described the event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold. Check in starts at 9:45 a.m. at the Humanities Building in Room No. 112.
“We’ll have some extraterrestrial-sounding music by a recent AACC graduate and talented musician Steve Hickey of Luiniss and, perhaps, a few skits about Halloween. Some spoofing,” he said, raising one eyebrow and grinning broadly. “I want to get people in. If we can entertain them, that’s fine.”
In addition to Mr. Resta, speakers will include retired U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Durant, discussing Roswell; Anna Jamerson, co-author of “Connections: Solving Our Alien Abduction Mystery,” on close encounters of the alien kind; Virginia residents Rob and Sue Swiatek expounding whether UFOs and Men in Black (more aliens) are fairy tales; and cosmologist Tom Van Flandern, who will muse about former civilizations on Mars – an intriguing theory as more and more evidence points to the presence of water and ammonia on the Red Planet.
“We do have more important things to talk about. We’re at war here. But, at the same time, if there’s life someplace else in the universe, I think that’s pretty daggone important,” Mr. Resta said firmly.
He also thinks government files on hundreds of “unusual incidents,” such as the Roswell crash of ’47, the Oct. 18, 1973, incident of U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne and his helicopter crew over Mansfield, Ohio, or the UFO sightings on Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 1965, should be declassified.
He’s not alone.
Aside from the usual granola mix of nuts and flakes, Mr. Resta is keeping company with the late astronaut Gordon Cooper; actor Dan Ackroyd; Nobel Peace Prize winner President Jimmy Carter; later Senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater; New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, formerly President Bill Clinton’s Energy secretary; and Clinton’s chief of Staff John Podesta.
Mr. Cooper, Mr. Carter and Mr. Goldwater all publicly claimed to have seen UFOs despite the damage they knew it could do to their careers.
Mr. Resta sketched out the details of the Coyne Case. A helicopter full of reasonable Army officers and enlisted men was chased, caught by an unknown vessel and briefly pulled upwards in some sort of eerie green “tractor beam.”
In addition to the military men, the account was corroborated by a family of five watching from the ground and a boy in his bedroom. According to Mr. Resta, government investigators said they’d actually seen Venus rising. Capt. Coyne was later promoted.
“That and ‘swamp gas’ is so typical of what the public hears,” Mr. Resta fumed. “They read a brief item or hear something about an incident on TV. Then comes a pat explanation and that’s the end of it. People don’t know the real details of whats going on.”
He added, “It’s true, the vast majority of sightings are Venus, meteors or other planets. No question they’re misidentifying objects. But you have a small percentage of cases with no easy explanation. My point is, if more people knew it wasn’t always Venus, they would be concerned.”
Mr. Resta noted that he’s a behavioral scientist. Born and raised in Washington, he earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and another in Clinical Social Work. His doctorate from the University of Maryland is in Human Development. The 58-year-old has been in clinical practice for more than 20 years.
Married to Debbie, who works in the accounting department of a local car dealership, the couple has four children: P.J., 25; Tiffany, 23; Stephen, 19; and Patrick, 13.
“Any science does not presume an answer before you start,” he explained as if he were standing before a chalkboard. “You don’t start by saying UFOs cant be, therefore they’re not. It’s not scientific. My big thing is education, education, education. I don’t know the answers, but more people should be asking questions. What’s going on now is closing off science.”
He’s been fascinated by “this genre since he was a little kid. “I wasn’t walking around with my head in the clouds, I was looking at the clouds. My Mom said she couldn’t wait until I grew up and got over this nonsense,” he said as opened a report he recently wrote based on his empirical research for a peer review journal published by a Chicago-based center for UFO studies.
He chuckled. “Sorry, mom!”
Tickets are $25. Bring a bag lunch, purchase lunch at campus eateries or beam up to the cafeteria on your spaceship. For more information, contact AACC’s Gloria Lighthizer at 410-777-2055.
Please e-mail news to Wendi Winters at BroadneckNews@quantumstep.com; write to her c/o The Capital, P.O. Box 911, Annapolis, MD 21404; or fax to 410-280-5953.