Getting started with Paparazzi is simple and easy.
It is important remember that if you use any autopilot without educating yourself about how to use it correctly that it can be dangerous for yourself and those around you.
To get started all you need is:
A laptop or workstation with Ubuntu and Paparazzi installed (see installation page and below for more information).
Ubuntu has come along way in a short period of time and is now easier to install than Windows. If you do not want to install Ubuntu directly on your computer, you can use the live CD or the virtual machine. If you don't know how to use a live CD or virtual machine, its probably best that you get an old laptop or workstation and install Ubuntu directly onto it.
Now you have a computer with Ubuntu installed you can install Paparazzi. This is a simple process if you use the step by step instructions available for new users on the installation page. The commands might seem a little foreign for new users of Linux but if you follow them exactly (copy paste is your friend) then you will have Paparazzi installed in as little as 10 minutes.
Once you have Ubuntu and Paparazzi installed, you can start playing with Paparazzi. One of the great benefits of Paparazzi is that you do not need an aircraft to start playing with Paparazzi. You can simulate an aircraft with an autopilot within the Paparazzi software installed on your computer.
Once you are at this stage you should read about simulations and how to change a couple of things to your liking.
You will probably want to start building a flight plan (where the simulated aircraft flies) for your local area. The best way to do this is to go to Google Maps and type in your local town. Once you have found your local town, get the Latitude and Longitude of somewhere where you would like to fly your simulated UAV. Now you have the lat and long go and edit the basic (this is the example flight plan) flight plan and change the HOME lat and long. When you change the HOME lat and long, the whole flight plan and waypoints will dynamically move to their relative position around your chosen lat and long. You can now download the Google maps for your chosen area to give it that realistic look.
Now you are ready to start your simulation (check the simulation page on how to start the simulation). Click Takeoff and then launch within the GCS and your plane will start flying.
Once you are doing this you will quickly be interested in learning more about what you can configure with Paparazzi. The best place to start to learn how to configure Paparazzi is to edit your flight plan so you can do more complex things. There are a multitude of examples for you to use both on the wiki and within Paparazzi.
Now you have spent time simulating the aircraft and configuring flight plans and any other goodies which has peaked your interest you might be ready to take the plunge and get a real UAV.
If you are ready to take the plunge you will need a few things other than your computer.
If you used your desktop computer for simulating Paparazzi, you will need to move to a laptop so you can take it out to your flying site.
Autopilot - Your best bet is to buy a prebuilt autopilot pack from one of the vendors who sell them (they are listed on this site). This saves so much time and they will often give you help if you need it!
Aircraft - Get a cheap electric foam aircraft because they are less dangerous and much cheaper (microjet is probably a good start but you can use any cheap beginner aircraft).
Radio Control - You need a radio control with a 3 point switch to switch between autopilot modes.