This paper examines the early stages of planning for a possible pilot on Universal Basic Income in Fife, Scotland. It builds on interviews with key stakeholders in the process and a number of internal and public documents related to the case. It focuses the analysis on a particular moment in the development of the pilot and discusses the idea of ‘piloting’, which in today’s policy-making seems to be an indispensable stage preceding radically new policy. Yet it seems there is a fundamental mismatch between ‘a pilot’ and the innovative work such are often called upon to do. Taking as is starting point for a discussion a key civil servants lament that “they did not pilot the welfare state” the paper moves on to argue that the real potential of a pilot lies not in its capacity to predict and prepare for policy outcome but in its capacity to prototype political alliances which might eventually do other work.