© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.In this study, the flight performance of a universal Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with 12 and 8 rotors was examined under load and no-load conditions. Thanks to its universal structure, experimental studies with 8 and 12 rotor UAVs were performed on the same platform and under the same conditions. In addition, the controller parameters were kept the same for both vehicle types in order to observe the effect of the mass load only. Hierarchical PID controllers are used as the controller architecture to control the orientation and position of the both vehicles. The flight performance of both vehicles was examined in three stages as take-off, trajectory and landing. Settling time, rise time parameters and position errors were used to benchmark the flight performance of the both vehicles. The results show that the performance of the 12-rotor vehicle is superior, especially in terms of trajectory tracking performance although the take-off and landing performance is very close to each other for both vehicles. This was observed more clearly under load conditions.