top of page

07/01/1990 - Inaja UFO Photograph

Birmingham UFO Group Report

In July 1990, Mike Orrell took a photograph at the Inaja Memorial Park, near San Diego, California. This photo appears to show numerous UFOs. It has been analyzed by a number of experts, and both Mike and others believe it to be good evidence for the reality of extraterrestrial visitation.

Incident Details

On the 1st July 1990, Mike and two friends decided to go hiking at the Inaja Memorial Park. It was about 4.00pm when they reached scenic spot 7 on the loop path around the park. The sun was starting to get low in the sky, and the view of the San Diego river valley was fantastic, so Mike decided to take a photograph using his Canon EOS 650 camera. He did not have a tripod with him so he put the camera down on a memorial rock wall to steady it. Setting it to maximum zoom he then took a single photograph. As it was getting late in the day, the hikers decided to head onward to the exit of the park.

A recent photo of Mike at Scenic Spot 7:


A week later Mike got his photographs developed. When he looked at the Scenic Spot 7 photograph something in the upper left corner caught his eye. He could make out what appeared to be nine small flying objects that appeared roughly triangular in shape. On the right of the photograph across the valley, a tenth object could also be seen. At first he thought it was a fault on the photograph, but checking through the others he found no similar anomalies. When he showed the photograph to his friends, one of them suggested that the objects may be a flock of ducks. Mike was not convinced, so he decided to get the photograph enlarged and professionally analyzed.

The Inaja UFO photograph:


Zoomed view of the formation:


In an amusing coincidence, two weeks after taking the photograph Mike also found a rock that bears an uncanny resemblance to an alien face in close proximity to Scenic Spot 7. He knew this was a natural formation, but was still interesting.

A recent photograph of Mike next to the “alien face” rock:


Photographic Analysis

Analysis of the photograph was performed by experts at Chrome Photo Labs in Sorrento Mesa. They first took a look at the negative, and were able to rule out dust in the lens and mechanical defects.

When the photograph was blown up, Mike worked out that the nine objects were moving to the right and appeared to be reflecting the setting sun, suggesting that they were metallic. The individual object was moving to the left, as if to join up with the main group. The objects were of a similar size and density, and are irregularly shaped, though roughly triangular. They do not appear to have any appendages or wings sticking out. It was confirmed that the objects were real, but they could not be identified. The individual object appeared to be acorn shaped and has a spike shaped projection on the left side.

Close up of the formation:


Close up of the individual object with line added to show shape of left side:



Mike was convinced that the objects he caught on the photograph were physical craft of unknown origin. Over the following three months he searched for links to his photograph in other UFO sightings, historical artefacts and ancient symbols. He discovered that the acorn shape of the individual object (and some of the others) was similar to the craft seen in the famous 1965 Kecksburg UFO incident.

Various images depicting the acorn shape of the Kecksberg UFO:


Mike also discovered that the acorn shape with projecting spike had appeared many times before throughout history/ Below is a selection of pictures illustrating this fact with a description of each:

📷 📷

1) UFO photo by astronaut James McDevitt during a Project Gemini flight over Hawaii on 5th June 1965.

2) Marking on the moon’s surface, named Mare Serenitatis.

3) Large carving at Petra in South West Jordon showing projecting acorn shape.

4) Projecting acorn shaped UFO photograph by Canadian Dorothy Izatt.

5) Egyptian tomb ceiling with projecting acorn shape cut into it.

6) Ancient pictograph shows projection on head pointing upward.

7) Projecting triangle carving in Egyptian tomb.

8) Projecting triangle symbol on the Nazca Plain (photo by Marilyn Bridges).

9) Acorn shaped 150 mile wide crater on the dark side of the moon.

10) The top of Cheops' Pyramid is a projecting triangle.

11) Kachina petraglyph showing walking projecting acorn shape.

12) Mayan artifact once again showing the shape and projection.

More information and further revelations can be found by exploring Mike’s official website (Link at end of report).

Newspaper Articles

National Examiner article:


Slamm article:


Interview Q&A

I interviewed Mike via E-Mail to find out more information regarding his photograph and follow up research.

Prior to taking the photograph did you have any interest in the subject of UFOs?

“As a child growing up in the 1950s and 60s it was my generation that was the first to be grow up with the idea of the existence of aliens and UFOs. Although I wasn't aware at the time about Kenneth Arnolds historic UFO sighting in 1947 followed months later by the now famous Roswell incident, there was enough excitement in the air about the topics to flood the movie theatres and bookstores with many tall tales. Orsen Welles famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast also provided a strong psychological push for more info on UFOs and aliens although I wasn't born yet to share that moment. It was in classic science fiction works by writers like Robert Heinlien, Issack Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert and Robert E. Howard that I really developed my interest in flying saucers as I followed my storybook heroes to exciting adventures on other worlds. Even though their writings were fiction at the time many of their predictions of science and technology have come to pass like the phasers in Star trek which most of us own now in the form of a cell phone. My belief in the existence of aliens and UFOs was cemented in the 1970s when my little league baseball coach, Dennis, introduced me to the science of metaphysics after my father "crossed over" in 1971. When I discovered that three separate authors were writing about the same paranormal realities that were never part of my formal education, I had to accept that there were many unknown truths that I would have to spend my life confirming. To anyone interested in these works I would recommend reading in order the first three books of each of the following authors. T.Lobsang Rampa, a humble monk sent west by his holiness the Dala Lama to describe his remarkable experiences in Tibet. Carlos Castanada, a UCLA Graduate student doing his hypothesis on hallucinogenic plants of native Indians gets more than he bargained for when he's introduced to a real Yaqui Indian Shaman. And what many consider the most important source for "unknown truth" the writings of Poet and Channeler Jane Roberts and her remarkable "Seth Material" where I learned that not only do aliens exist but they seeded our planet and are emissaries from the highest authority who have a lot invested in our development and survival. Of course on that fateful day I photographed the UFOs in 1990 the subject of UFOs or the paranormal was not on my mind while hiking with my two friends.”

Do you have any thoughts on why you did not see the objects at the time of taking the photograph?

“There is no question that I didn't see the objects at the time because on the negative strip which contains four pictures you can see that the third photo contained the UFOs and the fourth was a completely different scene. I assure you had I seen them I would have taken more photographs of that valley they were hovering over. There was also no chance that my two friends could have seen them because the objects were so far away. Only my zoom lens and camera were there to witness and record the remarkable event. I have, however, always regretted that I did not follow a standard photographers rule and take at least one more photo of the best scenic vista of the entire expedition. That second photo would have shown the same objects in a different position especially the single craft moving to the left on the west side of the valley. It was when I got the film back from Thriftys that I first saw the objects, and had it not been for my earlier training in metaphysics , I would have dismissed them as ‘flying ducks’ like one of my friends tried to convince me they were. Eventually the experts would prove him wrong. The real question is did the fleet of UFOs know I was there and posed for me knowing that I would not dismiss this opportunity because by belief system included the possibility of the existence of UFOs.”

When you first saw the objects on the photograph what did you assume they were?

“The 4x6 print of the photo that I took at scenic spot #7 at Inaja Memorial Park successfully captured that dreamy blue haze hovering over 18 miles of the San Diego River valley. That was my first impression of the photo. Almost immediately however I noticed what appeared to be a developing error in the upper left corner. Even after examining the strange dots with a magnifying loop I couldn't tell if they were a negative glitch or a flock of birds. Since no other photo in that roll duplicated the dots or captured the valley I decided to enlarge the objects as much as I could in my own Omega C760 enlarger. The results were inconclusive so I went back to that same scenic spot #7 a month later and captured birds and planes in the same area that the objects were and enlarged them. After examining the comparison I was convinced that i had done the impossible and captured UFOs in a one in a billion shot and began by quest for the expert’s opinions.”

Who else did you show the photograph to initially and what were their thoughts on it?

“My girlfriend was the first but she wasn't a photographer so I showed them to my buddy Jeff who still wants to believe they're flying ducks thanks to our never-ending rivalry. Eventually I became a field investigator trainee for MUFON who instructed me to send my photo and enlargements to Dr. Bruce Maccabee.”

After developing the photograph, how long was it till you decided to get it enlarged and analyzed?

“It wasn't until I talked to a member of the San Diego UFO Society several weeks later that I realized that I needed to have the objects blown up to grain which I could not do on my own enlarger. After I got the enlargements back from Downtown I was shocked to see how clear the triangular objects appeared.”

What were your main reasons for wishing to get the photograph analysed?

“Even before numerous experts would eventually authenticate the objects as unidentifiable I was convinced that they were real UFOs after comparing the objects with the birds and planes that I photographed at the same spot. More importantly after the objects were blown up to grain I had discovered a repeating pattern on some of the objects that I also found on other UFOs as well as ancient artefacts. It was a real eureka moment for me stumbling upon this UFO Rosetta Stone but without a professional analysis my theories would not mean a thing.”

Who did this initial analysis of the photograph and what was their conclusion as to what the objects were?

“The first professional to analysis the photo was Bruce Maccabee who told me over the phone that the objects in the Inaja Photo were unidentifiable and opaque. Although I have never received any written evaluation on the objects it was enough to convince me that I was right about my conclusions. It was Los Angeles Times Bureau Chief Tony Perry who next challenged me to prove my theories to him in person and had his photography department analyze the photo. His headline days later spoke volumes about their conclusions; ‘HEY, YOU THINK IT’S EASY BEING CHOSEN TO SPREAD THE UFO GOSPEL?’. I also had met on two occasions the famous test pilot from Russia Marina Popovich and we exchanged UFO photos. After her delegation analyzed my Inaja UFO Photo she was impressed enough to hold it up during a KGTV Channel 10 interview which was mentioned in my front page Beach & Bay Press article.”

Was it this initial analysis that determined the objects were moving and not stationary?

“No, in fact I don't recall anyone determining that the objects were moving. It was my own observation of the enlargement of the craft on the right side of the valley that clearly illustrated that the craft was moving right to left. The left edge of the object was a clear and clean acorn shape and the trailing end had left three impressions of itself which accounted for the shutter speed of the camera. One day I hope to get a comprehensive analysis of each of the ten objects.”

Did you get the photograph analyzed by anyone else? If so, what were their opinions on it?

“The best analysis to date was performed by the experts a Chrome Digital Photo Lab for my CBS Special on KFMB Channel 8. Chrome founder Dennis Reiter declared that “the negative was intact, there was no damage and they appear to be flying objects and they are unidentifiable.”

The objects are quite far away on the photograph. What do you feel is the best evidence that they are unidentified craft, and not simply a flock of birds?

“It wasn't until the objects were blown up to grain that I became convinced that they really were UFOs. The formation on the left side of the valley was stunning. I could even detect flecks of blue pixels on the underside of some of the craft which accounted for the blue haze in the valley below and a reflection of the sun on the top right which implied that the craft were metallic. Eventually I turned my attention to the single craft on the opposite side of the valley and was not initially impressed. Then as I began to analyze this fuzz ball I realized I could clearly see the left contour was the exact acorn shape that I had just recorded on my VCR of the famous Kecksberg UFO case from December 9th 1965 as portrayed on an episode of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’. The comparisons were identical and just about floored me. I had just confirmed the reality of the Kecksberg incident and it had identified my craft as well. Then there was the unusual projection two thirds up the left side of the single craft. This turned out to be the Rosetta Stone that also appeared in numerous other UFO photos as well as ancient artefacts, crop circles and the Nazca Lines in Peru. Interestingly enough during one of my early presentations to a group of MUFON investigators I asked them all to draw on a piece of paper what they saw in the enlargement of the single craft. Not one of them came close in their drawings to what was actually there so I guess it was a good thing that the aliens chose an artist and photographer to capture their image.”

Do you believe that all the objects on the photograph are the same shape and type of craft?

“Yes, even though none of the objects in the formation clearly show the acorn contour of the single craft across the valley, it is still easy to see that they are acorn or triangular in shape and that their density is uniform. Also the fact that three of the objects in the formation have formed a triangle which is pointing towards the approaching craft highly suggest that these UFOs were manufactured at the same location.”

Was it yourself that determined that the shape of the object/objects was the same as the craft seen in the Kecksburg UFO incident?

“Yes I made this connection before I had ever contacted any experts about my UFO photo. I had to be convinced before I could advance further and with the Kecksberg UFO I had the conclusive evidence that I needed. In fact I began to believe and still do that the Kecksberg crash was purposely designed as a recognition event since it altered its course and was seen by numerous eye witnesses before the military covered it up.”

Do you believe that the objects are the same craft type as the one from this incident?

“Yes and I have seen other videos from NASA astronauts that show the same acorn shape UFO flying around. The best of these was Astronaut James McDivitts UFO photo from a Gemini flight over Hawaii when he captured an acorn shaped UFO with the same projection as my craft.”

Do you believe the individual object was flying to meet up with the other formation of objects?

“Yes, I also believe there have been other sightings of the same kind of UFO in the area. Years before I took my UFO photo two teenage boys saw a triangular shaped UFO and their drawing of the craft made the front page of the same newspaper that I would eventually be featured in, The Daily Californian. Also a former girlfriend revealed to me years earlier that several times when she spent the night at a friends house which was in an isolated area, they would see a blue light hovering over a distance stand of trees. One night Linda woke up to her friends screams and ran into her room which was flooded by the blue light which was right outside the window. They both ran screaming from the room. Weeks later I visited the same house with Linda and asked her to point out the location of the blue light. After a brief inspection of the area looking for pod marks or damaged limbs and finding none I turned back towards the house and that’s when I saw the downtown lights of El Cajon and imagined that that was the best vantage point for the UFO could see our civilization from. Now I've always wondered did the aliens see that years later I would capture their image and set Linda up for her event just like they did me?”

Why was it important to you to find meaning behind what you had photographed?

“After I determined to myself that these objects really were UFOs and that within three months of taking the photograph I had discovered a lost sacred pattern linking UFOs to each other as well as ancient artefacts, I realized that I had been set up. My whole experience from the day I was born to my fathers untimely death and my introduction to metaphysics was constructed for this purpose; to "Spread The UFO Gospel"- L.A.Times. Not that I considered myself better than anyone else but no one in my inner circle knew anything about the ‘Unknown Truths’ that metaphysics had revealed to me. Its one of those cases where the more you know the more you owe. Then I noticed that some of the evidence I had collected to prove my theories was being lost forever. The James McDivitt UFO photo was introduced on a program called ‘Secrets and Mysteries’ which eventually was cancelled. Had I not taken a photo of the TV image no one would have that photo which NASA claims is lost. Linked with all this is the doomsday prediction of 21/12/2012 which has been covered in numerous documentaries on TV. I believe that aliens are showing themselves globally to prepare us for a biblical rapture event that they will perform as our earth shifts its magnetic poles and destroys everything on earths service. That’s why it’s important to me to bring this evidence to everyone’s attention.”

Was it important to you that other people would also believe the photograph showed unidentified craft?

“Yes, because aliens and UFOs have been given such a bad rap in the movies and elsewhere I thought that if everyone else could see the evidence (that’s now on my website) then their thoughts on the subject would shift towards a positive belief system. Metaphysics teaches us that our thoughts have substance and actually create our reality. I have witnessed this truth many times in my own life and am convinced that my story, when properly presented will change the millions of doubting Thomas's.”

You found a number of other historical works of art which seem to show a similar shape to the objects on the photograph. What are your thoughts and beliefs surrounding this?

“There is no doubt in my mind that these artefacts prove what metaphysics has claimed all along, that aliens seeded our planet and have been instrumental in our technological advances from day one. It is a spiritual quest they are on and we are the result of their endless tireless efforts on behalf of our creator. Their abductions have created a race of in-betweens that will teach the survivors of the coming apocalypse all the realities of our existence that were not included in our formal education.”

Do you believe that all of these depictions of this particular shape is proof that craft of this type have been present on our planet for a long time, and that these various depictions actually show these craft?

“Yes and the evidence is endless, as my historic amateur videos "UFOs in San Diego" prove, this particular acorn or triangular shaped craft has been depicted in countless rock paintings sculptures and artwork of every kind. And the key has been the projection which is usually depicted in the same position.”

Have you read about any meaning behind the shape seen? If so who has written about it and where can this information be found?

“Metaphysics claims that the triangular shape contains energy. Now I'm not sure how these craft propel themselves but I have made an interesting observation. According to the original ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ episode on the Kecksberg incident, eye witnesses reported three bands surrounding the craft with two of the bands close together while the third is slightly farther apart. Incredibly I have found this same pattern on the walls at Petra, in rock paintings and most importantly in the wave pattern of the hydrogen atom. They may be using light has a power source.”

Do you feel there is any possibility that this repeating shape may be just purely coincidental or have an alternative meaning?

“The pattern is real and can be confirmed by anyone doing their own research. I can walk into any bookstore and within minutes find more evidence in other books on rock paintings or ancient artefacts. There is a reason for this; they want us to know they exist.”

After seeing all the additional evidence and analysis results, what do you believe you photographed back in 1990?

“There can be no doubt that what I captured on film on July 1 1990 are ten Kecksberg type UFOs in the middle of a reconnaissance mission. Similar fleets of UFOs have been captured on video in Mexico and around the world but only the Inaja UFO Photo has provided the detail to conclusively link UFOs to each other as well as ancient artefacts. I believe this is the event that mankind has been waiting for and will propel mankind ultimately into our next evolutionary state.”

Do you feel you were meant to witness the objects for some purpose, or do you believe that you just caught them on camera by accident?

“I am convinced that it was no accident, that I was meant to be there at that exact time and place and was prepped with metaphysical teachings so that I would understand the significance of the photo and have the ability and courage to share my conclusions with a global audience.”

Do you have any thoughts on what the objects may have been doing in the area?

“I can only guess that they were continuing their observation of our species. I can't dismiss the remote possibility that they knew I was there and posed for my camera. Or perhaps they didn't know I was there and God himself set it up so that everything aligned perfectly. I have on numerous occasions escaped physical death by what can only be described as heavenly intervention. Was I saved for this purpose? Possibly, and if so I have no intention of failing and will continue until the end to promote this true story.”

Did any other witnesses claim either at the time or later to have also seen the objects?

“No, but at numerous times after one of my front page articles or after a UFO convention that I attended I have serious individuals describe their own UFO tales some of which relate to my own experience.”

Has anyone ever accused you of faking the photograph? If so, what were your main arguments against this?

“No one has accused me of faking the photo even though I had my own dark room at the time I took the photo. One of the reasons it would have been hard to fake this is because the objects were so far away and there were so many of them.”

Since taking the photograph, have you had any further encounters with UFOs?

“Since taking the photograph I have had no further encounters although I wished I had. There was a mass UFO sighting New Years Eve 2008 in San Diego of a fleet of airborne objects captured on video. It may have been them but there is no way to tell. I have, however prepared my girlfriend in case we have a sudden UFO encounter on the road during another scenic hike. She wants nothing to do with them.”

Do you have any other comments or points you would like to make about your photograph?

“I would very much like a detailed analysis of each of the ten objects and their relationship to each other and whether or not they are reflecting their surrounding terrain. I would especially like to have the object on the right side of the valley analyzed and a written report produced stating the results which I would post on my website. This event happened to me because my belief system manifested it. This could have happened to anyone with the same background and I would encourage everyone reading this interview on UFO World to read up on the three authors I mentioned earlier and prepare yourself for our next evolutionary phase which will undoubtedly include interaction with aliens species from every part of our universe and beyond.”

Other Photographs

Mike next to a gallery of his own professional photographs:


Mike speaking at Paula Harris’ UFO lecture in San Diego:


Mike presenting a copy of his UFO photograph to Paula:


Internet Links

Mike Orrell’s official site:

UFO Casebook page about the photograph:

Copyright Dave Hodrien 2009



bottom of page