Drone Videographer Duncan Sinfield: 'Only a Matter of Time' Until Apple Park Shuts Down Drone Flights

Duncan Sinfield says that piloting his drones over Apple Park has become increasingly difficult in the past few weeks, and that he believes it's "only a matter of time until the campus becomes shut-off to drones completely." Sinfield's comment on Apple Park security comes in the text description of a new video that he uploaded today, where he talks about the response that he's been getting to drone piloting over the campus.


The drone videographer says that security "generally responds" to his precise takeoff location "in 10 minutes or less." He speculates that Apple has set up a geofence of some kind and that the company could be tracking all drone flights near the campus in an effort to lower the amount of eyes on Apple Park. He further guesses that Apple might be using technology from a company like Dedrone, which describes itself as "the airspace security platform that detects, classifies, and mitigates all drone threats.​"

This is an extended length video, it's only a matter of time until the campus becomes shut-off to drones completely... with a geo-fence, or something similar. Security at Apple Park generally responds in two white Prius's to my precise take-off locations in 10 minutes or less. While this is speculation, my instincts tell me that Apple is tracking all drones in the vicinity of the campus with sophisticated radio frequency technology from companies such as DeDrone (a San Francisco-based aerospace security company).

As always, I respect all requests by Apple Security to land my drone and leave the area when asked to do so. They are always asking if I'm an Apple employee too. So to all of the Apple Employees watching (and reading), don't fly your drones over The Park, it's frowned upon!

Last summer, multiple reports emerged about Apple Park security's first efforts at stopping drone pilots from accessing the airspace above the campus. Despite those attempts, drone update videos have been consistently uploaded to YouTube by multiple videographers, including Sinfield and Matthew Roberts. Apple Park's latest stance on drones appears to be a bit more strict this time around, and follows a recently leaked memo from the company that warned employees against leaking details about future devices to the media.

Besides the security-focused topic of the description, Sinfield's video today is an extended update providing the usual coverage of Apple Park. The campus looks essentially complete except for a few remaining dirt mounds and empty landscaping areas outside of the main spaceship building and near the Steve Jobs Theater. Apple Park has become increasingly busy since more employees began moving in earlier this year, with the campus providing a backdrop for executive interviews as well as housing CEO Tim Cook's own office.

In another drone video posted back in February, Matthew Roberts captured a drone that malfunctioned and crashed among the solar panels covering the roof of Apple Park.

Top Rated Comments

826317 Avatar
36 months ago
Can you blame them? It's private property and can become a safety hazard to people walking on campus. There are also privacy concerns of course.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
az431 Avatar
36 months ago

But Apple doesn't own airspace around campus, do they?

Good point. I’ll come over and hover my drone 10 feet above your house 24/7.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IJ Reilly Avatar
36 months ago

But Apple doesn't own airspace around campus, do they?

Nope. All airspace is federally controlled. Specifically, Apple Park is under the Class C airspace of San Jose Airport, meaning aircraft cannot enter it without contacting ATC. The only reason why drones are allowed to fly over Apple Park currently is that an exception, called a NOTAM, was requested. The text of the NOTAM:

NOTAM UAS Operating Area SJC_08/052
DEFINED AS .5NM RADIUS OF 371900N1220033W (4.5NM SW SJC)
SFC-700FT (SFC-400FT AGL) DLY 1500-2259 1708171500-1806302259.

We don't know who requested the NOTAM in the first place, but it will expire June 30, and presumably not be renewed by the FAA. That's when drone flights will end over Apple Park, and the reason they will end. But good luck ending the meaningless speculation. This isn't the first time I've tried.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pika2000 Avatar
36 months ago

Apple is becoming like North Korea

Please post your address so we can have drones recording your house and its backyard, and upload them for public watching on Youtube.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Heineken Avatar
36 months ago
But Apple doesn't own airspace around campus, do they?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wsidewarrior07 Avatar
36 months ago

Nope. All airspace is federally controlled. Specifically, Apple Park is under the Class C airspace of San Jose Airport, meaning aircraft cannot enter it without contacting ATC. The only reason why drones are allowed to fly over Apple Park currently is that an exception, called a NOTAM, was requested. The text of the NOTAM:

NOTAM UAS Operating Area SJC_08/052
DEFINED AS .5NM RADIUS OF 371900N1220033W (4.5NM SW SJC)
SFC-700FT (SFC-400FT AGL) DLY 1500-2259 1708171500-1806302259.

We don't know who requested the NOTAM in the first place, but it will expire June 30, and presumably not be renewed by the FAA. That's when drone flights will end over Apple Park, and the reason they will end. But good luck ending the meaningless speculation. This isn't the first time I've tried.

If the pilot is part 107 certified and has an Airspace Authorization for the SJC class C Airspace there isn't much Apple can do. He's operating within his legal authority as an FAA licensed UAS operator. The only exception would be if he was being unsafe in the airspace. Otherwise... there's not a darn thing Apple can do to "restrict" their own airspace, about the only thing they could do is prohibit take off and landing from their property, but if he takes off on a public sidewalk across the street.... tough cookies.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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