Friday, June 09, 2006

In Memoriam of Karl T. Pflock

Karl Pflock
* Note: Epitaphs for Karl will be posted here over the next few days, starting with his obituary -FW

Karl T. Pflock
June 5, 2006

Albuquerque resident Karl T. Pflock, died today (June 5, 2006) at his home in Placitas, N.M. He was 63 years old and passed away after combating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as “Lou Gerhig’s disease.” He died at his home with his family.

Pflock was an author of fiction and nonfiction, best known for his nonfiction book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (Prometheus, 2001), in which he concluded that the famous “crashed flying saucer” in Roswell, N.M. in 1947 was actually a highly-classified program called Project Mogul, which was designed to determine if the Soviet Union was conducting atmospheric testing of an atomic bomb.

A former CIA intelligence officer (1966-72), Pflock returned to full-time writing and independent research in 1992 after devoting 11 years to public service and private consulting, during which he was a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration; a senior staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives; and a strategic planning consultant to the chairman of the U.S. Department of Energy and other U.S. corporations and federal agencies.

Karl Pflock is survived by his wife, Mary Martinek, and his children: Cynthia Newbury, Kurt Pflock, Anna Pflieger, Aaron Pflock, and Jennifer Martinek, as well as nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Karl and I knew each other when we both worked on Capitol Hill during the early 1980s--he for Ken Kramer (R-CO) and me for Ray McGrath (R-NY), where we were instrumental in forming the Congressional Staff Space Group, a collection of Hill staffers who were enthusiastic supporters (for personal as well as professional reasons) of the U.S. space program. The group later became the Congressional Space Caucus.

What we didn't know was that we both shared an interest in the subject of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). I became intrigued with the subject after seeing the film, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," learning that it was based on real cases. Karl's interest went back to his childhood, when he saw a UFO (which he would be quick to point out doesn't necessarily mean an extraterrestrial spacecraft).

Karl and I became re-acquainted in 1992 when he learned of my interest in the Roswell UFO case, the reported crash of a "flying saucer" outside Roswell, N.M. in July 1947. I was pressing for an explanation from the U.S. government of what actually crashed--a weather balloon (as originally explained by the Army Air Force), an extraterrestrial spacecraft, or something else. The answer turned out to be "something else."

Karl and I worked together to launch a congressional inquiry to answer that question, which eventually led to a U.S. Defense Department report suggesting that the Roswell "flying saucer" was a highly-classified project to determine if the Soviet Union was testing an atomic bomb in the atmosphere by launching long strings of high-altitude balloons with recording devices. Apparently the recovery of one of the crashed balloon trains and the high level of government secrecy surrounding the project (remember, this was in 1947, right after World War II and at the beginning of the Cold War) generated the popular belief that the Roswell case may have involved something more exotic than a "weather balloon."

After a two-year long investigation, Karl concluded that the source of all of the hoopla was Project Mogul and presented his findings in a book, Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (Prometheus, 2001). Although the title was a description of Karl's own position at the time, it also described mine. We both, I think, were victims of the "will to believe," because we shared the idea that something very remarkable happened in Roswell. That turned out to be right--but it wasn't what we thought (or hoped). Karl's research (to which I lent some considerable support, even alienating colleagues who I thought were friends) presented "inconvenient facts." Nevertheless, these facts are overwhelmingly convincing that Roswell was associated with Project Mogul, not an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

It was that dedication to the truth that I admired most in Karl. A meticulous researcher and a superb writer, Karl was the essence of intellectual honesty. He followed the facts wherever they led. And he admitted his mistakes and foibles with the same spirit in which he defended his ideas.

One of the greatest honors of my life is that in his book about the Roswell case, after his dedication to his "spousal associate," he acknowledged my friendship and support, for standing by him "when others doubted."

It is in that spirit of friendship that I share this sad news, which Karl would say isn't sad at all. His wishes were for no funeral or memorial service, but rather a party, during which vast quantities of champagne and good beer would be served and relatives and friends would share "Karl stories." This is mine.

Bon voyage, my friend. We'll meet on the other side.
-Fred Whiting


     To all who knew and admired the man, the ufologist and the friend.

Karl Pflock's memory will nor fade away but, continue to serve as an example of what the study, researching and investigation of the phantoms of the skies is intended to be. That is a heuristic learning experience, not a belief system built upon rumor mongering and sensation-seeking.

Jim Moseley and I were fortunate enough to have worked with Karl and shared in his wisdom, insights and humor concerning the UFO enigma and it's many enthusiasts. But, most of all, we were fortunate enough to be his "saucer pals". Karl was truly one of the "good guys' of UFOria and we will miss his infectious laughter, wit and friendship.

Few knew his courage, and fewer still in saucerdom recognized his humble genius.

-Matt Graeber



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