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Philip Klass, 85, Dies; Aviation Journalist, UFO Debunker
Mr. Klass wrote about extraterrestrial issues in his own Skeptics UFO Newsletter and appeared on talk shows and lectured widely. His investigative findings were routinely criticized by people and organizations who took seriously UFOs and alien abductions.
He once told an interviewer: "I've found that roughly 97, 98 percent of the people who report seeing UFOs are fundamentally intelligent, honest people who have seen something -- usually at night, in darkness -- that is unfamiliar, that they cannot explain."
He said the sightings were often of objects such as reentering satellites, meteor fireballs and hot-air balloons.
His books included "UFO Abductions: a Dangerous Game" (1988) and "The Real Roswell Crashed-Saucer Coverup" (1997). In the first, he promised $10,000 to any victim whose abduction by aliens could be confirmed by the FBI. No one ever collected.
Mr. Klass was born in Des Moines and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After graduating from Iowa State University, he worked for a decade at General Electric as an electrical engineer. He joined Aviation Week in 1952 and later wrote extensively about surveillance satellites for that industry publication.
He was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He was awarded top honors of the Aviation/Space Writers Association, the Lauren D. Lyman Award of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Boeing Decade of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement.
His investigative papers form the Philip Klass Collection of the American Philosophical Society. An asteroid discovered in 1983 was named in his honor.
Before he took on UFO debunking as a full-time avocation, Mr. Klass was a Civil War buff. He designed and built animated electronic battle displays used by the National Park Service at the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields. His other interests included skiing and sailing.
He was a member of the National Press Club and the National Aviation Club.
Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Nadya Ganev Klass of Merritt Island; two stepchildren, Anton Ganev of Olney and Diana Dryden, both of Merritt Island; a sister, Rosanne Klass of New York; and three grandchildren.