Thursday, June 8, 2006
Researcher Questioned Roswell UFO Story
By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer
Karl Pflock, an author and Placitas UFO researcher best known for his nonfiction book "Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe," which debunked the famed incident as an extraterrestrial encounter, died this week.
"The title (of the book) I think is representative of his dealing with the conflict between his will to believe and the inconvenient facts that he uncovered as a result of his efforts," said Fred Whiting, a longtime friend and fellow UFO enthusiast who met Pflock when the two worked on Capitol Hill in the early 1980s.
Whiting announced Pflock died Monday at home with his family. He was 63. He had suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called ALS or Lou Gerhig's disease.
In 1992, Pflock started studying Roswell and two years later his investigations yielded a report published by the Fund for UFO Research, according to a past Journal story.
Pflock's report questioned much of the evidence that forms the classic Roswell story, though he left the idea open that a spaceship did crash in the state.
He continued investigating and eventually went public with his doubts.
"Based on my research and that of others," he wrote in a letter widely distributed among those in the UFO community, "I'm as certain as it's possible to be without absolute proof that no flying saucer or saucers crashed in the general vicinity of Roswell or on the Plains of San Agustin in 1947."
Pflock believed the crash debris was likely a part of "Project Mogul," a government project that used oddly shaped meteorological balloons and top-secret technology to monitor nuclear weapons tests conducted by the Soviet Union.
Still, Pflock was convinced that there was something to the existence of UFOs.
"In my gut," Pflock told the Journal in 1997, "I'm convinced that at least some of the UFO sightings have been alien spacecraft."
A San Diego native, Karl T. Pflock graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science from San Jose State University in 1964. He then served with the reserve components of the Marines and Air Force, according to www.ufoevidence.org.
He was a CIA intelligence officer from 1966 to 1972 and would spend years in public service and as a consultant.
He served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and a senior staff member in the House of Representatives.
He was a special assistant for defense, space and science and technology to then Rep. Ken Kramer, R-Colo., and senior staff member under then Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y.
He also served as a strategic planning consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy and other corporations and federal agencies.
In 1992, Pflock returned to full-time writing and research.
Pflock and Whiting were instrumental in forming the Congressional Staff Space Group, a collection of staffers who were supporters of the space program, Whiting said.
The two became reacquainted in 1992 when they learned of a shared interest in the Roswell incident though Pflock's interest in UFOs, any unidentified flying object that was not necessarily an extraterrestrial spacecraft, was piqued long before.
"He told me that he and his father were out late at night, leaning up against the family car, looking up at the stars, and he saw what he would describe as a UFO," Whiting said.
Whiting said they worked together to launch a congressional inquiry to answer the question of what had occurred in Roswell, which led to a Defense Department report suggesting that the "flying saucer" was actually part of Project Mogul and the recovery of one of the crashed balloon trains and high level of government secrecy generated the popular Roswell UFO story.
Whiting called Pflock a "meticulous," "serious" and "credible" researcher fitted with a photographic memory.
"I don't mean to make him into a Boy Scout or anything ... but he was somebody not to be taken lightly," he said. "At the same time, he had a great sense of humor and was able to tell stories; just had a gift for narration.
"He was able to smoke out some obviously phonies who were touting some rather spectacular stories involving the Roswell case," he said.
Pflock's wife, Mary Martinek, worked for the late Rep. Steve Schiff, D-N.M., when the congressman conducted an investigation into the Roswell incident.
Pflock is survived by Martinek; his children, Cynthia Newbury, Kurt Pflock, Anna Pflieger, Aaron Pflock and Jennifer Martinek; and nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
It was Pflock's request that no funeral or memorial service take place.
"His preference was that the people who loved him got together and had a party with lots of champagne and beer," Whiting said.