Klass, Philip J. 1919–2005

views updated

Klass, Philip J. 1919–2005

(Philip Julian Klass)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born November 8, 1919, in Des Moines, IA; died of prostate cancer, August 9, 2005, in Cocoa, FL. Electronics engineer, journalist, and author. A well-known aviation journalist credited with coining the term "avionics," Klass was also famous for debunking stories about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO's). After graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in engineering in 1941, he worked for General Electric for eleven years. Klass then joined the staff at Aviation Week & Space Technology, where he was senior avionics editor until his 1986 retirement (he remained a contributing editor there until 2002). At the magazine, he specialized in writing about the electronic aspects of aviation, as well as on surveillance and communications satellites, arms control, missile defense systems, and lasers. Originally, a main avocation of his was U.S. Civil War history, and he enjoyed building animated battle displays for the National Park Service. This hobby was eclipsed, however, when he became interested in UFOs in the mid-1960s. He started investigating claims about UFO sightings, but repeatedly discovered that such stories could be explained away as actual sightings of meteors, weather balloons, airplanes, satellites, or other normal occurrences and objects. Klass was a founder of the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, started the Skeptics UFO Newsletter, and published several books about UFOs over the years. Among these are UFO—Identified (1968), UFOs Explained (1974), and Bringing UFOs down to Earth (1997). At one point, he even offered a ten thousand dollar reward to anyone who could offer proof of the existence of UFOs, but the prize was never won. For his work as a science writer, Klass earned numerous awards of his own, including four writing awards from the Aviation/Space Writers Association, the Professional Achievement in Engineering award from Iowa State University in 1988, the Lauren D. Lyman award in 1989, and the 1998 aerospace journalist award from the Royal Aeronautical Society. In 1999 a meteor that was originally discovered in 1983 was named in his honor.



Chicago Tribune, August 14, 2005, section 4, p. 7.

New York Times, August 12, 2005, p. A17.

Times (London, England), September 12, 2005, p. 58.

Washington Post, August 11, 2005, p. B5.

About this article

Klass, Philip J. 1919–2005

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article