Can you have a PfCO *and* be a hobbyist?


May be a daft question, and it may (though I can’t find it) have been asked elsewhere…

From a few posts both here and on Mavic Pilots, there are some suggesting that if you get a PfCO then all your flights fall under your permissions. In effect, you’re never just a hobbyist if you have a PfCO.

Is that right? Or is it that all your commercial (or potentially commercial) flights have to adhere to your PfCO, but if you’re just driving about and spot somewhere you think would be a fun place to put the drone up then so long as you’re within the Drone Code then you’re good to go?

I realise that if you’re just out flying, who’s to know you have a PfCO if you don’t tell them… just wondering what the official situation here is.

Ta :slight_smile:


It’s fairly easy.
ALL flights are done under the air navigation order and drone laws unless you are commissioned to film or intend to sell your photos and videos commercially.
In order to sell any footage you have to be pfco certified. That’s what the pfco certification is for.
It’s a bizarre system really but extends to drone and private pilots equally. Consider this prosecution case and see if you think it fair…
A private pilot was nipping over to France and gave his friend a lift.The pilot didn’t want any payment, however his friend insisted that he take him to a restaurant and buy him a meal.
Another pilot at the airfield heard this and reported the 1st pilot to the CAA and they prosecuted him for flying without a commercial pilots licence, due to him accepting the offer of a meal. The only difference in the flight was that he could carry passengers but not passengers for reward, which he would need a different licence for.


In order to sell any footage you have to be pfco certified. That’s what the pfco certification is for.

Why is this ?
If I take my Nikon out and snap away all day at monuments, and beach, I can sell the pix.
Why is a drone any different ?
Who dreamed up that rule, when a private pilot sits in the aircraft, and a drone flyer does not.


I’ve no idea who dreamt it up. And I agree it seems totally idiotic that you can snap away with your Fuji and sell the photos, but for any drone footage yoo have to have pfco. It’s the same with a driving licence, you can give someone a lift, but as soon as you accept payment, you become a taxi.


No :slight_smile:

Yes :slight_smile:

(provided your ‘fun’ flight had no commercial intentions when you took off)


I know I am. I enjoyed flying my drone and the photography before I took the PfCO. However, my reason for taking the PfCO wasn’t due to wanting to monetize my initial hobby. It was the only way to get proper training, beyond the excellent training that I received from Phantom Flight School when I bought my first drone, so much so I did my PfCO with them in Spain. I wanted to learn how to do it right, ok the PfCO covers a lot of general pilot stuff that isn’t drone relevant but it does make you consider where you fly and your surroundings. This is important, we aren’t going to win over the public if we dont bear due consideration.


You’re all PfCO certified now?



Yes, got it at the end of September last year. Just building my business as Fly The Sky. Currently doing the day job though in Guernsey and with the new Mavic 2 Pro I got at Christmas there, getting a few flying hours in here in certain places. Different flying rules here as ATC is not under CAA control. Just added the M2P to my ops manual so getting that updated.


Congrats! And the PfCO Certified badge is now on your profile. :+1:


Why thank you kind sir. I got a heap of photies to post too, but off down to a place call Jerbourg to see what the story is down there. Its outside of the 2 nautical mile limit of the airport here so I don’t need to call GATC for flight permission.


It’s been a few years since I was last in Guernsey … usually bricking it riding a massive swell into Baucette in my brother’s 70ft, and very beamy, boat.
I can imagine that would be a pretty place to fly … inside the quarry … errr, marina … and the coast outside.


Thanks everyone. That’s confirmed what I thought (hoped), it’s just some folk had said they wouldn’t do the PfCO because it would restrict their ability to just go out and fly.

Similar to you @ScottishYorkshireMan, after spending so much on the drone I thought it might be important to know how to fly it properly/safely so I’ve just started the PfCO course with Uplift Drones. It’s online training so it’s up to me to then book the exam and flight test when I’m ready. If it was going to restrict the fun side of having a drone I don’t think I’d bother, but since it won’t (and the cost is included in the course) then I might as well… if nothing else, it’ll give me a bit of paper to wave about if I get any hassle post-Gatwick. :wink:


Let us know your thoughts on Uplift Dones in case others are interested.

Probably too late for you, but you were aware of some of the discounts we’ve negotiated with some training facilities - details on posts in #members-only.


I am now! :laughing:


There’s often more than just cost to take into account - location can be important.
Hope it goes well and look forward to your review of their courses.


Remember also there is a £247 bill from the CAA to actually ‘get’ your PfCO. This is the annual fee.


I done a Drone course with the local Police Drone unit about 6 months ago and this question was asked and the answer was when you have you PfCO thats it you cant fly as a hobbyist anymore every flight has to be done to whatever the rules are. Only saying what we was told on the course i can get clarification on this from them as we now have contact with them after the course (i will email later and see what response i get)


They are wrong.

Your time would be better spent emailing your question to the CAA instead of a police force :+1:t2:


I believe the yearly PfCO renewal fee is £185, unless it’s been increased. Only know this as about to do my course later this month!


Apologies, the first time you register the fee is £247, the renewal is quite rightly £185. Apologies for not being clearer here.