In Memorial: Philip J. Klass: A UFO (Ufologist Friend's Obituary)

Article excerpt

PHILIP J. KLASS, A CO-FOUNDER OF THE COMMITTEE for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and a friend and mentor to me, died on August 9 at age 85 following several years of declining health.

Though best known to the general public as a leading LIFO skeptic--and reviled as such by many "believers"--in "real life" Phil was one of the world's most honored aerospace journalists. Readers of SKEPTIC magazine may be familiar with his cutting-edge Skeptics UFO Newsletter (which I copy-edited), but his professional peers knew him as a groundbreaking reporter on more serious matters, having been the first--in the mid-1950s--to publish articles on such topics as inertial guidance technology, infrared missile guidance and detection, and the future microelectronics revolution. His one non-UFO book, Secret Sentries in Space (1971), was the first to deal with spy satellite technology. Phil's six books on UFOs include UFOs Explained (1974), which is still widely regarded as the best in the field.

My relationship with Phil began in 1977, during my metamorphosis from "believer" to "skeptic," when I received a copy of UFOs Explained in the mail--free of charge--in response to a letter I had written to him. At about the same time, I had also written to Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the country's #1 pro-UFOlogist. Hynek was also gracious in replying, but his letter's references to Phil's book were so demonstrably false that, armed with my new present, I proceeded to write Hynek four pages, including a point-by-point rebuttal. Upon reading a copy of that letter, Klass replied in part, "What you have dared to say to the 'Galileo of UFOlogy' [as Hynek had recently been dubbed in Newsletter] has long needed to be said. …