Anyone operating a Remotely Piloted Aircraft or an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle?

By RPA I would mean at the least a large remote controlled aircraft with First Person View technology, i.e. not just a standard radio controlled aircraft.

By UAV I would mean something controlled by an autopilot flying a predetermined route controlled by e.g. GPS using something like Ardupilot.

I’m thinking about it as a project for lots of reasons…


Wasn’t there a thread on the legalities of such things quite recently?

They are legal unregistered as long as they are under a certain weight, you can see it at all times and it is no more than 400m horizontally away from you (I can’t remember the height but its in feet (maybe 100’?) and of course you have permission from the land owner to crash into their field. I have looked into doing it as a personal project and have started with designs however making something durable as I was looking at provides issues. Like I might have been able to get hold of some pre-preg carbon fibre however being able to heat a large object whilst vacuumed provides issues. However if you leave enough room for a ‘payload’ it can provide lots of options for future expansions and modifications e.g. aerial photography, water balloon target practice etc. etc.

Once my college project is finishing up I’ll be going back to it so if you find anything good please do share.

[quote=“tmmorris” post=5236]Anyone operating a Remotely Piloted Aircraft or an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle?

By RPA I would mean at the least a large remote controlled aircraft with First Person View technology, i.e. not just a standard radio controlled aircraft.

We’ve been working on such a project for years. Apart from pro CAM wings, it’s a complete scratch-build in balsa and light spruce. It may use an Arduopilot-style guidance system, but that would be a ‘three-ply’ approach for control, in the sense of:

…R/C pilot’s direct visual aspect up to the UAV from the ground, and never BVH;
…Pilot’s-Eye-View, for the R/C pilot on the ground, looking in axis of flight, and never downwards;
…GPS-informed 3-axis positional information that could be used for guidance purposes

Ours will be primarily a technology demonstrator platform, slow spiral flight is the intention, not a R/C trainer or performer. There are masses of potential applications for it, but the one thing it will most definitely not be capable of doing is look-down video. I’ve been warned officially that such a capability is total no-go that requires all sorts of licensing, so I won’t be arguing the point.


Anyone thinking of an “recreational” FPV aircraft, who is unaware of their governance, could do well starting here:


This could be an awesome project…I want one…

Would you have to wear a flight suit while flying it though? Anybody from the world of UAVs or aircrew able to explain why that’s the norm?

In fairness, UAV pilots are only following a long dress tradition set by e.g USAF Missileers wearing flying coveralls (where ICBMs and GLCMs were and are still the ultimate UCAVs…). Having a silo mentality can still have many meanings…

I also believe that prior to the creeping international progress of camouflage uniforms as working dress, nomex (and equivalent) flying coveralls were standard dress for certain key aircrew personnel on the ground at NORAD, SHAPE…but not normally within the RAF. Even at SOCs and RAOCs, duty aircrew personnel certainly on shift in peacetime originally wore blues. I’ve a vague recollection of some aircrew types within an RCC appearing for exercises in coveralls.

Of course, on stand-to for live Ops, everyone in any opscen would have to be wearing their issue combat clothing, hence why it’s standard rig at eg PJHQ. It’s only in RAF tv recruitment ads that modern-day ops personnel (on non-UK foreign theater ops) wear blues…greens, or their equivalent, are normally worn.

And remembering, of course, that operational UAV pilots, on ops (deployed or otherwise), could, in principle, be ordered to fly at any time.

The flip side of this, of course central to the point you’re making, is that (for example) you never saw CAPCOM dressed-up as a spaceman, or Dowding in a white onezie.

There is a difference, though, and I reckon operational USAF and allied aircrew wearing coveralls whilst flying UAVs could be said to get away with it.

Now, Cadets wearing (flying) coveralls whilst flying R/C aircraft…that’s a totally-different catwalk. Local cdr’s common-sense, coupled with a careful eye upon public etc perception…not sure on that. Publically, it’d be better than greens (combats, I mean), but blues if practical would equally look the part and do the job.


Yeah…I just don’t get why you’d want to spend all day wandering around in a baby-grow. I suppose that’s why I’m not aircrew…

Well, that and the wonky eyes…

Even then, I saw a photo the other week of a UAV operator from the US Department of Air and Marine (responsible for operating UAVs on the US/Mexican border) and the chap was in a flight suit. Why? He wasn’t a pilot in any sense other than of a UAV, he was nowhere near a manned aircraft and he was never going to leave the ground…

Sorry, off topic.

Interesting, thanks. The BMFA link was particularly essential.

wilf_san, do you know what the reference is for downward video/photography being illegal? (presumably one can get a licence). In particular I would like to be able to do this in two places:

  1. On our school grounds.
  2. Over a DTE training area.

I would have thought that, as I would be doing so with permission, it would be acceptable in these cases, but perhaps not?

YHPM, too, about your own project!


Comfort. Far better that blues. Only PCS has started giving an alternative.

Less ironing required too. Lots of pockets as well. :slight_smile: