In situ measurements using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remote sensing observations can independently provide dense vertically resolved measurements of atmospheric aerosols, information which is strongly required in climate models. In both cases, inverting the recorded signals to useful information requires assumptions and constraints, and this can make the comparison of the results difficult. Here we compare, for the first time, vertical profiles of the aerosol mass concentration derived from light detection and ranging (lidar) observations and in situ measurements using an optical particle counter on board a UAV during moderate and weak Saharan dust episodes. Agreement between the two measurement methods was within experimental uncertainty for the coarse mode (i.e. particles having radii > 0.5ĝ€μm), where the properties of dust particles can be assumed with good accuracy. This result proves that the two techniques can be used interchangeably for determining the vertical profiles of aerosol concentrations, bringing them a step closer towards their systematic exploitation in climate models.