Apple reportedly cracking down on drone flights over Apple Park

“The latest footage from Apple Park shows a glimpse inside the now unclad Steve Jobs Theater, work underway in the atrium, the historic barn re-assembled completely, and the manmade pond nearly ready for water,” Mike Wuerthele reports for AppleInsider. “Additionally, a large amount of progress has been made on the visitor’s center, showing a roof resembling the Chicago remodeled store.”

AppleInsider has also learned that there is a security force intended to halt these flyovers,” Wuerthele reports. “Another drone pilot claims that they were stopped by a hired security guard who has the express purpose of shutting down drone flights over the campus.”

“Current FAA guidance requires drones to keep 360 feet away from structures, and mandates that the user must maintain visual line-of-sight to the device at all times,” Wuerthele reports. “Navigable airspace above 500 feet is limited to manned airplanes. FAA guidance allows drones to fly below an altitude 400 feet to ground level, but there are court rulings from the mid-20th century that suggest that a landowner owns up to 365 feet —so a legal battle is imminent.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve been wondering for how long Apple would ignore these drone video shoots over Apple Park since the day we saw the first one.

Apple Park July 2017 4K drone tour – July 13, 2017
Apple Park June 2017 4K drone tour – May 30, 2017
Former Apple engineer: Steve Jobs hated the idea of a multi-button mouse – March 10, 2014
TIME Magazine on Apple’s ‘war’ on buttons – March 19, 2009
Steve Jobs hates buttons – July 25, 2007


  1. Fly at 380 feet and the drone pilots should be in the clear. That’s above Apples legal ownership and below the FAAs guideline…problem solved.

      1. A quick look at Maps indicates Moffatt Federal Airport is very close but at least five miles away.

        The guy shooting most of the flyovers we see here is following the rules. He watermarks his footage, so he’s not hiding. The authorities would have shut him down a long time ago.

        1. Such as?

          The B4UFly app may not be as accurate as one might think. I’ve worked with government employees numerous times. It wouldn’t be surprised to find out the app was programmed with a “better safe than sorry” approach. Like indicating no fly zones that are larger than they actually are.

        2. 1. I also don’t trust B4UFly and use AirMap.
          2. Yes, it is within Class C airspace, but it is not that difficult for a 107 remote pilot to get FAA clearance considering how far away it is from San Jose Airport. Moffett Airport is too far away and irrelevant.
          3. As long as you take off and land outside of Apple’s property, Apple security guards have NO POWER to do anything except lie to you that they do have ANY authority. They can bluff, but that’s it, especially if you have an FAA waver. Local police don’t even have much power. Only the FAA has authority over FAA space.
          4. “360 feet away from structures” is pure fiction. In fact, if the structure is above 400 feet, the FAA requires you to stay WITHIN 400 feet of that structure.

        3. Apple security certainty has the power to eliminate the drone invasion. They would rather enjoy the free publicity than risk somebody photoshopping Timbo and Angela flailing away with pink Benelli shotguns. (Shudder!)

        4. Actually, Apple security officers are not sworn officers. Just people with uniforms. And if the drone pilot is not on Apple property, then they have zero power to tell you to do anything.

  2. I have to wonder why Apple hasn’t mounted a legal challenge to these drone flights when they started. The ones I’ve seen (typically shown here on MDN) appear to be done by one guy who isn’t keeping himself hidden. Surely Apple could have hit him with a cease and desist after the first one.

    So far that I am aware of, there have not been any incidents involving drone flyovers of the site. An Apple stance against it is perfectly understandable.

    But still… Apple has gotten a lot of positive (and free) PR from these videos. They look terrific and really show off the project in a way that’s not possible from ground level. Not that Apple is even doing that at this time.

    What would have been really nice would be if Apple had set up cameras to do time lapse of the entire project from start to finish. Like what is shown at Disneyland at the Disneyland Story presentation.

    1. Because, so long as the remote pilot takes off and lands outside of Apple property and has FAA clearance to fly within Class C airspace, (Apple’s new campus is within Class C airspace) he/she isn’t doing anything illegal. Apple can’t (and shouldn’t) do anything.

      A lawyer can write a “cease and desist” letter to stop you from brushing your teeth, but it wouldn’t be worth the paper it is written on.

  3. HMMMM: thinking I am going to start working on my defensive drone if people start flying drones above my house. Come below 380 feet and ………….wonder if a launchable capture net would work. Sounds like fun.

    1. Where’s your house located? Are you doing anything illegal or nasty enough worth filming? Should I send my 4K drone over there and post it on youtube for the world to see? /s

      Apple should do their own filming of the Apple Park site. Only I’m afraid they’d try to charge people to watch the flybys. Didn’t Apple want to create some original content? Well, here’s their chance.

      1. “Are you doing anything illegal or nasty enough worth filming” If I was, then I guess that you could call the police. But something in your head forced you to put up a drone to find out what I am doing just on speculation. Or stalking.

        The fact that you seem to want to see me doing something on my own property says a lot about you, and its not good.

        For the benefit of the rest of society, please keep to yourself.

    2. Before you do something to become legally responsible for damaging a $3,000 drone, keep in mind that there is no FAA regulation requiring drones to keep 360 feet away from structures.
      That exist only in the mind of the reporter.

      1. “no FAA regulation requiring drones to keep 360 feet away from structures.” Well, there sure as hell needs to be one!

        There are many other legal situations with damage caused by stupid jerks using expensive toys that can provide legal precedents.
        It’s only a matter of time.

        Why should the rights of a stupid idiot take precedence over my granddaughters sunbathing in a fenced back yard? And yes, they do keep some clothes on! But even if they did not, what right does anyone have to take drone video of them? Hopefully, the destruction of common sense law will start to turn back soon. It seems bad behavior increasingly gets a pass.

        1. Because drone pilots are not interested in your granddaughters.
          People think, when they see a drone 300 feet away, that they have a magic zoom lens on them to spy on people in their backyards. The fact is they all (except perhaps for the $18,000 drones that also don’t care about you) have wide angle lens’ on them and you are only a dot in a photo that they are probably not even taking, because your house is of no interest to them. It’s boring. They may be shooting wide angle real estate photos 5 houses down or, in most cases, just getting in some practice flying.
          If you walk up to a drone flyer in a friendly way, most of us would be happy to show you what our drone sees. In most cases, I even offer to let them fly it. Today’s drones are incredibly safe.

          Again, I don’t need to see your backyard, Apple and Google already photographed it, as do a dozen other map makers from planes on a regular basis.

        2. I wasn’t trying to come across as snarky or angry. Just as a professional photographer and a drone pilot trying to convey the message that drone pilots are not trying to, and are not interested in, spying on people in their backyards. Any drone that a consumer can by at your local Best Buy, or Apple store, has a wide angle lens on them.
          Airplanes can fly over your house anytime, they’ve always had that right, and Police & news helicopters do have powerful zoom telephoto lens’ on them. Consumer drones do not.

          Then again, if you are doing anything that would cause a military drone to be interested in your backyard, well, that’s a different story.

        3. “Because drone pilots are not interested in your granddaughters.”

          Given the fact that drone pilots are human, and the fact that evil does exist in the world, it is also a fact that some of them will be interested in spying on my grandaughters or of me mowing the lawn.

          I don’t think they have the right to do that anymore than they do peeping in my windows!

          “Today’s drones are incredibly safe.” But not all of the people who own them are. Just recently on the 4th of July in a neighboring city, some unidentified knothead nearly dropped one into a crowd on the sidewalk at a parade. So don’t bother trying to tell me that they are all angels. Same percentage of evil as the rest of the population.

        4. Clearly your granddaughter’s intent in a fenced backyard is for privacy. If they can’t be seen from ground level, or the neighboring windows, and balconies their intent is clear.

          You raise important points, but believe me, at even 200 feet with these drones you cannot discern who the person is, much less see their bits.

          But you’re right, there will be laws enacted that hopefully address your concerns in principle.

  4. It makes sense that Apple is only challenging this now. Flying over a construction zone is one thing. Flying next to offices of one of the most secretive companies in the US is someone else altogether. I can easily imagine drones with long lenses focusing on the screens and desktops clearly visible through the windows; imagine the designs a drone operator (or a Google spy) could easily spot!

    1. I’m sure there must already be spies inside of Apple. Those spies who are always leaking about software and hardware problems with Apple prototype devices. How else would anyone know Apple is “struggling” with software code for the beneath-the-screen TouchID sensor.

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