Unidentified Wing (San Diego, California)

A few months ago, Tyler and I were out with Lora on the Marissa and she said to us “hey, have I ever told you about the wing section that somebody found?” Tyler and I looked at each other with some confusion and jointly say “uhhhh, no!”

So off we went to go find this wing.

We dropped in and had to run a line in the direction of this “wing” and navigate through a bunch of kelp but we located it relatively quickly.

The plan was to go back and measure the wingspan to better help identify it, but I’ve been busy with some other projects. Since we haven’t had any time to do that and we are approaching the end of the year, I decided to publish what we have and then see if anybody can help identify it. At some point, hopefully we will go back and measure it.


The wing has an interesting shape and we believe that it is from a drone. I’d estimate the wingspan at about 40 feet. I think Tyler thinks it is a bit bigger, maybe 50 feet.

There are a few interesting things to note about this wing. The shape is not like a wing you would see on an airplane. It looks more like the wing of a drone. Also, on the starboard side leading edge of the wing has a “tube.” I’m not sure what this was for but you can see it in the photos below. There wasn’t the same thing on the port side but maybe it was ripped out during a crash?

Here are some various photos of the wing. The photogrammetry model below is probably better to give you a sense of the overall shape.

Photogrammetry Model

This is a good subject for a photogrammetry model. It is really hard to get a sense of the overall shape of the wing based solely on the photos since none of them cover the whole wing. However, when you build a photogrammetry model, you can see the structure and shape of the entire subject.

Since the water was a “greenish” color and I wasn’t using artificial lighting for most of the photos in the model, I built both a “color” version and a black-and-white version. Both are posted below:

Next Steps

At some point, we’ll measure the wingspan which might help us identify where the wing came from. I recently ran across a photo of the X47B drone and you can see the wing shape is very similar. Just to be clear, there are only 2 of those drones that exist and both are in known locations. However, it does provide more indication that the wing is from some kind of drone.

X47B from Wikipedia

If anybody has any thoughts on what this wing can be, please get in touch.

2 thoughts on “Unidentified Wing (San Diego, California)

  1. Base on some of the photos and with out measurements, like you said hard to figure out. But based on what was done in southern Ca for the Navy and Air Force back in the 70-80’s They used a lot of QF-4’s a lot for target drones. I remember seeing several out at Mojave Airport. They had QF-100’s out there too. So I believe you looking at a target drone.

  2. Based on shape and internal structure visible, I think you’re looking at a QF-4 missing outer wing panels. Most of the visible structure appears to be the main wing box/internal wing fuel tanks between forward and intermediate spars, but there appears to be some structure left of the aft spar on the port wing. Bleed air ducts (forward of forward spar) also seem to correspond to boundary layer control system.

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