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R. Earl Good, research director at Kirtland, dies at 78

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — R. Earl Good, an astrogeophysicist who headed the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base from 1997 to 2003, died Dec. 10 of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 78.

Dr. R. Earl Good

Dr. R. Earl Good

“Dr. Good left an indelible mark on the Air Force Research Laboratory community through his outstanding leadership and public service over a long and successful career,” said AFRL historian Bob Duffner.

Good was born June 2, 1936, in Sterling, Ill., and moved with his family to Edinburgh, Texas, in 1946. He received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas and a master’s in that discipline from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961.

After receiving his doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1974, Good became a research engineer at MIT’s Naval Supersonic Laboratory. From 1967 through 1991, he held various positions at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, including supervisory physicist in the optical physics division.

As a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service, he was awarded the Meritorious Executive title. The service is a corps of executives selected for their leadership qualifications.

In 1991 he became director of the Geophysics Directorate at Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland. Two years later, he became the lab’s executive director. Good was a prominent force in conducting experiments to determine how a laser beam moving through the atmosphere would be affected by atmospheric turbulence. That work was especially important for advancing the Air Force’s airborne laser program, Duffner said.

Good also was part of a major experimental effort that employed more than 100 sounding rockets to characterize conditions in the upper atmosphere.

When Phillips became part of the Air Force Research Laboratory in 1997, Good became director of the Directed Energy Directorate – one of two AFRL “directorates” located at Kirtland. The Directed Energy Directorate develops high-powered lasers, microwaves and optical systems for military applications. As head of the directorate, he initiated a program for large, deployable space optics to revolutionize surveillance, communication, battlefield illumination and target identification and designation through the use of relay mirrors.

A memorial service for Good will be at 11 a.m. Dec. 27 at St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2626 Arizona NE.

Survivors include his wife, Carolyn; daughter, Cynthia Good and husband, Alan Pratt; son, Robert Good and wife, Jackie; four grandchildren; and a brother, Paul Good of Houston.