FPV question - Is a spotter a legal requirement?

I have not gone down the FPV route ( although I have tried them at one our South East Meet ups) because I am aware that I would need to have a spotter with me to be compliant with current rules. That is not something I can easily arrange every time I go out to fly.

I have noticed that with many of the FPV videos ( which I love watching ) there is clearly no spotter.

In practice do those that fly FPV just ignore the need for a spotter or have I misunderstood the regulations



Legally you need a spotter just like legally you shouldn’t ride an escooter on a public road but everyday people do.

It’s all down to how legal and safe you want to be.

If you are starting out I would suggest its best practice to have a spotter as the likelihood is that you will crash and a spotter makes the drone recovery process loads easier :joy:


As mentioned yup you do - but you will be hard pressed to find a 100% compliant FPV pilot.

I really hope the CAA will change this rule as FPV drones fly very differently to normal camera drones - most will want to keep them low and surf a few feet above the ground to get that rush of speed. Or swoop around structures that make it impossible to keep visual on. How does a spotter know what direction a pilot is going to fly ?

At the end of the day its about risk management.

And usually no more than a 100m from home, as you say mitigate the risk, and the walk of shame to pick the thing out of the long grass.

Oh I have had a few walks of shame across a muddy field that’s for sure haha - the problem with FPV is you want to be low and fast and well clumps of cow turd or grass they just pop up from nowhere haha - splat and flop haha

Ultimately its how will they know :wink:


Yes it’s a requirement. I know people who don’t use a spotter. Personally I tried it once in a field without one and spent the whole time flying worried about a farmer coming over etc etc. flew one pack (well half as it was my new DJI FPV) and went home, ruined the experience. I only FPV with others now.

But yeah your spotter is required to know the orientation of a drone… Now with my rates at 900-1000 degrees per second, good luck anyone knowing which way my drones pointing.

It’s more fun with others. It’s another side of the hobby.

Like speeding, the rules are there but have you ever gone over 70mph.

Don’t be an idiot, fly safe, etc. I don’t think I’d have any issues with an avatar at a local park alone. But… Who knows. You could get robbed with goggles on your face haha

I wonder how the Red Bull team / University team , went on making the video of the drone chasing the F1 car ? Clearly that drone was BVLOS for the spotters ? No matter that it was at a virtually deserted racetrack, drone laws were clearly broken :wink::wink::wink:

They probably were not flying in the Open Category and had permission to do what they did.

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Totally. With that level of publicity plus insurance demands, they’d have all the paperwork in order.

Did wonder if the Dutch Drone Gods people had to get the GVC for this.

There’s a good interview with the pilot in this video:

Or tracker spotters in touch with base ?

There is a bit of a caveat in the CAA rules about needing a spotter - it mentions sterile environment - generally this means for racing indoors. But I wonder if the same can be applied for any location that if you fly within an area that you have control of access etc?

A farm field that has only one access point into that has no people in or the ability for people to get into due to fencing etc and you only fly within that area of the field. So in the box as it were like how they control airspace for airshows.

Would that be the same - mmm

In general from my experience FPV pilots fly closer to the ground and to where they are due to the nature of the way these craft fly and to get the best out of the experience that they take a bit more care about their surroundings so as not to damage their drone / property or people. But thats my view on the topic.


Is that allowed? Assumed normal spotter rules had to be next to you? Assume this a special thing?

I do believe that a sterile zone can be setup (i.e. for racing outdoors too) for events etc. I’d be very surprised if redbull hadn’t got special permission etc

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I’m sure the CAA rules say that the spotter has to be stood next to the operator, not in radio contact with him ?

Money talks I reckon :wink:

I think given the insurance implications of that car, that driver and that location, all health and safety and legal requirements will have been ticked off.

Sterile area is an exception to the spotter rule.

Sorry Chris, I see nothing on the CAA website mentioning “sterile areas” for FPV flights outdoors. I know if you fly entirely indoors there are no such requirements

CAA guidance does not apply to indoors flights as there is no risk to aviation

I’ve reached out to shaggyfpv perhaps he can shed some light

Wait out

I see Red Bull might just be in a spot of bother with the CAA, over the recent stunt where two wingsuited chaps flew through Tower Bridge. Only thing I can seem that might have upset the CAA is the drone following them that also flies through Tower Bridge and immediately into a restricted zone :wink::wink:

I am sure they will earn more money through the positive and negative advertising than the fine will be… no such thing as bad publicity…