Friday, September 16, 2011

An Interplanetary License Plate?

About ten-years ago, I spent some time in Taos, New Mexico and met with an interesting character named Dan Salter (see his book: Life With A Cosmos Clearance).

Dan claimed to know the inside story of Roswell, crashed UFOs, dead aliens, and high-level conspiracies of truly dizzying varieties. Dan also claimed to be a recently-retired employee of the ultra-secret National Reconnaissance Office.

When I met Dan at a diner in downtown Taos on my second morning in town, I felt sorry for the guy: he was elderly and frail, had then recently suffered several strokes, both his physical health and his speech had been impaired to a considerable degree as a direct result, and here I was about to intensely grill him on UFOs for three hours.

Nevertheless, and thank goodness, Dan fully retained his mental faculties, and was highly motivated and upbeat. And, over a wonderful Mexican meal and Margaritas, he regaled me with entertaining tale after entertaining tale about his alleged out-of-this-world exploits and decades-long career as a Fox Mulder-like 007.

Yes, UFOs were real, Dan told me. Yes, an alien spacecraft had crashed at Roswell, and both it and its extraterrestrial crew were recovered by the American military. Yes, sinister aliens were abducting American citizens and implanting them with tracking devices for diabolical purposes that could only be guessed at. Yes, people had been killed by the government to hide the horrible truth.

And, yes, there were a number of "underground bases" in New Mexico where the aliens were undertaking all manner of horrific experiments on people for purposes so terrible that the Government, powerless as it was to intervene, dared not reveal them to the oblivious masses.

And Dan, he assured me, as a direct result of his work with American intelligence, was privy to these, the most guarded of all UFO secrets.

However, it was not just the interview itself that fascinated me, but something else, too. After exiting the restaurant around 2.00 p.m., Dan and I climbed into his vehicle and headed to the home of one of his friends. I could not help but notice as I headed towards the vehicle that its license plate was very different from any other that I had ever seen.

Instead of being made up of a conventional combination of numbers and letters, it read: HQ INTERPLANETARY PHENOMENON SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL COUNTERINTELLIGENCE WA 25, D.C.

With Dan's permission, I took some photographs of this curious piece of evidence in the strange saga.

He explained to me that the license plate was a reference to a secret, military organization called the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, and was a retirement present from his friends and colleagues at the National Reconnaissance Office.

As Dan said to me: "I know you saw my license plate on the car. I saw you looking at it. That was on the vehicle I had on base at the NRO, and it was given to me when I retired. I asked if I could show it to people and they said, 'Well, if we didn’t want you to show it to people, you wouldn’t have it.' So, I guess, that means I can show it to people. But those vehicles with the plates were never allowed off base."

As we concluded the interview, Dan had these parting words for me: "Nick, we've got to know each other over these last few days and I feel comfortable talking because I know you just want answers. There are other things I can tell you. I have to speak with a few people and you might get some other old-timers speaking to you in the next few weeks."

Evidently, the "Okay" never came. And I never heard from Dan Salter again. But I do still have that curious photo!


  1. It's not a license plate.

    I'm sure he had a real one on the back of the vehicle.
    It is obviously a conversation starter for someone who desperately wants to talk about UFO's. That you felt such bullshit deserved further discussion is sad. You know civilians are often allowed on bases. What would have insured that word of this (painfully fictitious) interplanetary organization didn't get out after some civilian accidentally saw the super secret tag?

    The whole thing is so stupid that I do feel compelled to comment upon it. How dumb is the idea that the top secret group decided to ADVERTISE their presence by putting tags on their vehicles? It's like the Bond villains who decided they need the BASE SELF DESTRUCT button at their hideout.

    I'm curious Nick, don't you ever get tired of pretending that you believe the stuff you are selling? Don't you get tired of schtick in which you repeat the unsupported nonsense of UFO hucksters without commenting upon it.

    Lance Moody

  2. Lance

    No, there was no regular back license plate. I took shots of the whole car and will dig out the others and post them showing the rear of the car with the same plate.

    That was the genuinely curious thing - we drove around Taos in a car with no "real" license plates. Never stopped by cops, nothing.

    No, I do not believe his story - regardless of what did or did not happen at Roswell, most people know I hold very little faith in the idea that aliens crashed at Roswell.

    Salter believed aliens DID crash at Roswell, so of course I don't agree with him.

    I felt the story was worth telling because I did (and still do) find it interesting. But do I think it's bullshit? Yes!

    I do believe the stuff I am "selling." And if there's anything that I think is bullshit, I'll say so - as I am saying to you now. I don't believe his story.

    But was it a weird, fascinating and odd experience speaking to him, etc? Yes it was. And do I feel it's worth relating the story? Yep.

  3. Lance:

    You say: "Don't you get tired of schtick in which you repeat the unsupported nonsense of UFO hucksters without commenting upon it."

    This is totally wrong.

    Check out my latest book, The Real Men in Black. I note that one has to eb very careful analayzing the claims and accounts of Keel and Barker. I point out that Albert Bender was an obsessive compulsive who had an illogical fear of cancer, and that many of his experiences were clearly borne out of his subconscious.

    My "Contactees" book relates my views on the whole Space Brother phenomenon, and I note that most were hucksters, some may have had real experencies, some were nuts.

    I've spent years telling people why I think MJ12 is bullshit - and publishing my thoughts.

    In other words, I do not avoid commenting on such matters. I'm doing so right now!

  4. I'm sure that he had real one on the days he wasn't going to meet a noted UFO author. Driving with fake plates isn't really that big a risk.

    More telling though is how stupid the very idea of the plates are.

    You have a much higher tolerance for talking to deluded believers than I do. I have certainly done so but I rarely found their tales fascinating. Instead I just thought how lucky the world is to have actual imaginative authors to spin fictional stories so we aren't stuck with these dull clods and their poorly constructed tales.

    I have spoken to several of the contactees like Menger and Aho and the most obvious thing about their stories (aside from the obvious attempts to center every aspect upon themselves) was how dull they were. You found them more interesting?


  5. lance:

    I wouldn't say that I have a higher tolerance.

    Here's my view: it's clear to me that much of what passes for UFO lore and history has far, far more to do with the people in the subject, than the phenomenon itself.

    Or, at least, it's 50-50 in terms of how much of the phenomenon as we perceive it is based on its reality and how much is based on what alleged witnesses tell us.

    Yes, of course there's a real UFO phenomenon (in my view), but would it have achieved the scale it has without its odd and eccentric personalities? Nope, there's absolutely no way!

    Like him or not, agree with him or not, Dan Salter became a brief and minor player in UFO lore. People listened to him and to his claims. He's now dead, but he's still a part of Ufology and the phenomenon - like it or not.

    I met Wayne Aho in 1998 in Nevada and had a very long conversation with him. I think he was a wonderfully eccentric character who believed what he was saying.

    Me? I think he may (and I stress may) have had some experience - almost certainly of a complex and internal nature, and borne out of a subconscious desire for something different in his life.

    But, yes, I do - definitely - find it very interestng to sit down and chat with odd and eccentric characters with equally odd and eccentric stories to relate.

    No, I don't find them dull at all. Largely, I dont believe their stories are the literal truth. But do they fascinate me? Do I find it intriguing and noteworthy that such fucked up accounts have helped mold Ufology in major and significant ways (particularly in the 50s - look at Adamski)? Yes to both!

    The people in the field (even the bullshitters, the liars, the deranged, the fucking losers, and the plain insane) are of equal importance to the real phenomenon. Why? Because - for all their fucking nuttiness and fantasies - they have helped shaped the phenomenon.

    And this is why I listen to them. But don't always agree with them - in fact, rarely. Because - like it or not - they have proved to be important in the development of Ufology.

    For good and bad reasons? Yes. But they are still important.

  6. Lance:

    There's a very good way to determine if someone is speaking truthfully or not. Or, at least, I think it's a fairly good indicator. Granted, we can never be sure, but it relates to working in publishing, and it's this:

    Every person (and I do mean every person) I have interviewed for my books has had to sign a release-waiver, confirming (for the publishers, not for me) they are who they claim to be, and with their address and complete contact info available to the publisher and their lawyers and fact-checkers.

    Sometimes, when I tell people they have to sign a waiver (my most recent The Real Men in Black book required, I think, 22 release forms sent to the publisher), they back away and won't let me use their story suddenly.

    Do I think these are the bullshitters and liars? Yes I do.

    Granted, it's not the ultimate litmus test. But, i do think that when people are willing to sign a form knowing its going to the publishers' fact checkers and legal people, then that offers (to me) a high probability they are being earnest.

    Those who suddenly back away - the bullshitters.

  7. And one more comment from me regarding this statement from Lance:

    "Does he [Nick] ever get tired of the schtick in which he repeats the unsupported nonsense of UFO hucksters without commenting upon it--thus tacitly approving of it without actually committing."


    Let's look at my written output. The reality is that I overwhelmingly DO comment on the hucksters and players in Ufology.

    Here's the facts:

    2011: My "The Real Men in Black" book demonstrates (in my words) that Albert Bender was obsessive-compulsive, deathly afraid of cancer, fantasy-prone, sex-starved (something which is clear from his dream-like encounters with hot space-babes he describes), and possibly may have had epilepsy, and a fear of being visited by "the Government." The result - a brain-borne vision of the MIB. That's failing to comment, Lance?

    In the same book, I note how carefully we need to interpret the work of Gray Barker - who was a master at turning a bright and sunny day into the proverbial dark and stormy night in his books, if it suited his purposes. And I say so! That's failing to comment, Lance?

    2010: My "Final Events" book discussed a think-tank group in Govt that thinks UFOs have demonic origins. Instead of supporting the scenario (as a cynical, money-drivem author might do), I actually - in every interview I have done for the book - pointed out the group's views were based on belief and faith (which is what every crackpot religion is based on), not on fact. That's failing to comment, Lance?

    2010: My book "The NASA Conspiracies" includes an entire chapter knocking down the arguments of the players (named) who believed the Moon landings were faked. Of course we went to the Moon! That's failing to comment, Lance?

    2008: My "Science Fiction Secrets" book includes chapters that are majorly critical of the Serpo saga; the Alien Autopsy film; demonstrates the flakiness of Philip K. Dick; and more. That's failing to comment, Lance?

    2005: My book "Body Snatchers in the Desert" demonstrates why I think MJ12 (the docs and the group) lack validity. That's failing to comment, Lance?

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on about how and where I have specifically addressed, criticized and commented on ufological flakes, questionable characters etc.

  8. Hi Nick,

    Please forgive me for the cross posting at UFO icon.

    Ok, point taken.

    One thing that is increasingly clear to me is that believers can read things into a statement that I don't see. I am willing to concede that I very likely do the same thing sometimes.

    Surely you aren't suggesting that each of your books is a skeptical dismissal of the topic at hand? If so, then I really should own a lot more of your books! Perhaps you can mention which of your books are simply a sociological presentation of the folly of paranormal belief? No, I think the Redfern reader might be expected to take away that most of these topics have a kernel of paranormal truth.

    I was mainly responding to the piece posted here. This posting demonstrates what I am complaining about. Where in that text is your commentary that you think everything about Salter was bullshit? Instead I see the equivalent of that pregnant question mark at the end of a B science fiction film: The End?

    Nick, I really should be picking on other folks than you. You are always exceedingly polite and reasonable while I often (always)? have the tendency to be an ass.

    There was something about the posting that bothered me about the sheer stupidity, vapidity, and desperate sadness of the whole thing.

    Even worse though was the obviousness of Salter's game: "I see you noticed my tag...because that is exactly what I wanted you to do!

    I had no idea that you were presenting the whole thing as an example of bullshit... You do realize that even clumsier bullshitters than Salter still have their own followings?


  9. It occurs to me that the bottom line of the 'licence plate', i.e. the 'WA 25 DC', IS a valid licence number. Why not? Can't you choose what you like in the US? In which case the guy DID show a valid vehicle licence plate!

  10. Lance:

    No, I wouldn't say my books are a skeptical dismissal of the phenomenon at hand. But, it would be correct to say my published views don't accord with those of most people in Ufology.

    For example, I don't believe for one minute that flesh and blood Bigfoot are running around and conveniently never, ever gettting hit by cars, never leaving a corpse behind etc. I think Bigfoot is probably a Tulpa.

    My Body Snatchers book was not a skeptical look at Roswell. It didn't support the ET angle, but still proposed that something very significant occurred.

    My Contactees book was highly skeptical of the Space Brothers theory. But, it still offered a theory for some Contactee experiences as being genuine - but visionary in nature, not literal nuts and bolts saucers and long-haired aliens.

    And my latest The Real Men in Black steers just about as far away as you can get from aliens and the government in terms of theories for who the MIB may be!

    So, in one sense my books are skeptical - of the ETH. But not skeptical in the sense that this means nothing of significance happened.

    Granted, I could have made my point in the post about Salter being a fantasist. And I have certainly done so now in the Comments section here.

    But, look at things in the context of this overall blog. It's not a blog designed for scholarly discussion. Rather, it's a bit of a light-hearted departure where - ever day, or at least weekdays - I post odd, intriguing and weird photos from my own personal collection.

    So, one day might be someone's license plate. The next might be someone's life-size model of Bigfoot. The day after that might be...well anything weird!

    Yes, there probably was far more I could have said about Salter, rather than just relate the memories of that day hanging out with him. But, truthfully, as just a light-hearted departure form the norm, this blog is something where I just post an odd photo, crank out a few words, and that's it.

    I could - and, now, may well - do a lengthy, serious post on all that Salter told me, and why it doesn't all add up.

    But that, of course, would be something so removed from this blog, I would certainly post it elsewhere.

  11. CDA:

    I'm actually not sure at all what the situation is re buying/registering etc license plates.

    Frankly, I view personal license plates as pathetic ego-driven nonsense.

  12. CDA & Nick

    This is absolutely NOT a real plate, personalized or not.

    Real plates conform to national and state standards. Here are some examples of real plates.

    Real plates require a certain size of character, identify the state, and perhaps most importantly are dated. It is hard to tell from the photo but Salter's tag seems to be made from plastic like those signs that slide into a frame to identify an office. For instance, in Salter's case, at his real job he may have had one that said "Janitorial Services" for instance.

    Perhaps CDA is on to something in that Salter may have added his real tag number to this bogus one (that part of the tag appears to be affixed as a separate unit). This still would never fly in a traffic stop but cops are sometimes slow to make stops just for tags. I once rode around with an out of date tag for almost a year.

    But then I am a bit of an outlaw anyway.


  13. 'WA 25 DC' I think would be a valid "vanity" plate number in NM, but the sign on his car is not a license plate. It's the mailing address for "HQ".

    For the youngsters out there, the 25 in Washington 25, DC is from the postal zone system used before zipcodes.



  14. Dear Nick,
    I thought your article was interesting and I am at this time entertaining stopping all comments at least on my You Tube channel. I am sorry to say that many who comment are sexist, prejudge all UFO witness testimony as hoaxers or fools. People who never met this man imply all types of character flaws. That is the nastiest type of character a person can have and they dominate the comments usually.
    So I think that unless these people have something to contribute the name calling is stopping on blog.
    Attack the evidence fine attack the character of someone you don't know not happening anymore on my blog or future You Tube.
    A nurse who took care of my closest friend while he was dying told the story of her father guarding alien bodies at I think Forth Worth he told her on his deathbed. She had taken Gary to a local UFO meeting and she told her story to him on the way. home. I spoke to her too. She told me her father had to tell her before he left., If you want nick I will try and get her phone number I just have to tread lightly the whole thing is very sad now.
    Joe Capp
    UFO Media Matters.

  15. Hi Joe,

    The actions depicted here in this short little piece about Salter show him to be a pathetic fraud or deluded or both. Salter must have depended upon the idea that most of his audience was rather stupid.

    The tag thing is just sad artifice. Hopefully you see that.


  16. In NM, they only require a single rear licence plate. People have other plates on the front all the time. Some have their old plates from other states affixed. That would be legal here.

    Now, him driving around with no rear plate? That would be cause for him to be stopped. in NM I see people without plates all the time (in more rural spots)...and trailers with no plates or lights is a redneck requirement....almost ;)

    Taos is a small town (6000 people?). Never been there myself. They may know the old guy around town and don't question him for some reason. Or have pulled him over before and are sick of doing he just keeps doing it.

    Now in New York? If his front plate was missing he would get spike strips and they would fill him full of bullets.

  17. Is this the guy you talked to:

    Just curious?

  18. Wow Lance, do you have as few friends as you do manners?

  19. Nick are you sure this wasn't the guy you talked to, shown here on a typical NRO agent's workday along a Tommy Lee Jones clone? :P

    I also thank you for considering your visitors as adults, fully capable of determining whether a particular story you refer to is bogus or not, without you bothering to state the obvious ;)

  20. "Wow Lance, do you have as few friends as you do manners?"

    Hey, that's a little too close to the truth!