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Piece of decades-old drone plane washes up on Massachusetts beach

World War II-era drone plane washes up on Cape Cod beach
World War II-era drone plane washes up on Cape Cod beach 00:34

WELLFLEET - A piece of decades-old military equipment washed up on a Cape Cod beach last week. 

After Cape Cod National Seashore staff took the object off Marconi Beach so it couldn't be swept away by a storm, a park historian figured out that they had found the fuselage of an old drone plane.

"It appeared to have been in the ocean for some time," the National Park Service said.

Last week, a man-made object washed up on Marconi Beach. It appeared to have been in the ocean for some time, and staff...

Posted by Cape Cod National Seashore on Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Drone planes used for target practice

The drone planes are formally known as a Remote Control Aerial Target. They were used in the 1940s and 50s at Camp Wellfleet, a former anti-aircraft training base that had an artillery firing line on the beach cliff.

"Aircraft equipped with an RCAT would take off from a now defunct runway located in the woods of Wellfleet," the park service said. "The RCAT would then be rocket-launched off the aircraft at 0 to 60 mph within the first 30 feet, and then controlled remotely from the bluff."

Military object found at old Camp Wellfleet

Camp Wellfleet was closed in 1961, but the military says "munitions and explosives of concern may remain within the project area." The 1,738-acre site is now used by the public for surfing, sunbathing, fishing and hiking. 

Back in 2014, the bomb squad detonated a World War II-era round of ammunition that washed up on a remote part of Marconi Beach. 

The Cape Cod National Seashore is one of the country's most popular national parks, with more than 3.8 million visitors in 2023. 

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