In this paper, we propose a persistent, robust and autonomous object tracking system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) called Persistent Aerial Tracking (PAT). A computer vision and control strategy is applied to a diverse set of moving objects (e.g. humans, animals, cars, boats, etc.) integrating multiple UAVs with a stabilized RGB camera. A novel strategy is employed to successfully track objects over a long period, by ’handing over the camera’ from one UAV to another. We evaluate several state-of-the-art trackers on the VIVID aerial video dataset and additional sequences that are specifically tailored to low altitude UAV target tracking. Based on the evaluation, we select the leading tracker and improve upon it by optimizing for both speed and performance, integrate the complete system into an off-the-shelf UAV, and obtain promising results showing the robustness of our solution in real-world aerial scenarios.