red & white dive flag a short history

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Posted by SDM on July 12, 2015 at 16:16:15:

With summer in full swing it seems appropriate to post a little history of the red and white dive flag on this board this board

Red & white dive flag - a short history
One of my long term areas of expertise is the red and white dive flag. I made a seminar presentation on the little known and probably long forgotten history of the design development and subsequent acceptance of the dive flag at SCUBA Show.

I thought it appropriate to share with a few titbits of historical facts about the flag

The concept of a flag to identify diving activities was first introduced in 1957 via a single paragraph in Skin Diver Magazine (SDM). During the following years divers and dive clubs made recommendations via SDM until early 1960s when it's design, color, size and display procedures was "officially" adapted by the diving public in 1960.

In 1962 the flag was only a few years old when first accident involving a boat and a diver displaying the dive flag occurred at Long Point at Catalina Island .

Until that time the flag had been promoted by SDM and was familiar with diving public and only slightly familiar to the boaters via posters placed in marinas and in launch areas but had never been tested in a court of law. During the geneses of the sport I was very active and considerably more visible in the diving community than I am today, therefore I was called as the only expert witness to defend the validity and proper use of the flag during diving activities. It was an awesome responsibility but we, the prosecution prevailed'

The red and white flag was saved! It was recognized as the flag of recreational diving!

This litigation which occurred over 50 years ago established the rights and privilege's of a diver displaying the flag and verified and established it as a "recognized flag" of diving activity. Displaying a red and white flag while diving is good assurance that in the event that you are in an accident involving a motor craft you have legal recourse in a California court of law.
Immediately after the trial I authored an 2 part 6 page article on the flag and the litigation which appeared in the now defunct LA County Underwater News, which I suspect a copy will be extremely difficult to locate.

A short time later I was also honored as the first Guest Editor of Skin Diver magazine - "Signpost to Safety" about the history of the flag and urging all divers to publicize and display the flag. ( I also authored articles for SDM and appeared on the cover of the magazine- the only person to have all three honors) This lead into writing the description of the flag for Chapman's Small Boat Handling and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. My original submissions described the flag and cautioned boaters to give a boat displaying the flag courtesy of reduced speed and extra clearance. But any resemblance to what I submitted and what was published is purely coincidental .

Since that first defense I have been involved in numerous consultations and and litigations of the flag. One particular critical trial involved a east coast corporation who via legal maneuvering considered themselves as the sole proprietor of the flag and who's intent was to establish a license fee for the manufacture and use of the flag. After 18 long months of research and lengthy deliberation it was determined the flag was in the public domain.

Once again the red and white dive flag was saved.

All can use it- in advertising, on wearing apparel, on automobile windows and as jewerly

My wife Dr. Betty and I just returned from an 8000 mile 2 plus month trip around the southern part of the US. One thing I noted when we visited dive shops and dive operators was the discrepancy in the proportions of the flag. The closer we came to Florida the thinner the white stripe became.

The recommended and universally accepted proportions of a dive flag as proposed and agreed and established in the early 1960s by the diving public was to be in units. The flag should be five (5) units wide by four (4) units high with a one (1) unit white stripe. Now to accommodate production many flags are square; 4 units by 4 units but the stripe should be 1 unit

The background color was recommended to be "blaze" or " neon orange," a few were manufactured (I have an original one!) Those colors evidently were difficult to reproduce and almost immediately gave way to the familiar basic red background

Many years ago I was honored as the "Out standing LA County Underwater Instructor of the year." So I had a custom ring made with the LA Co UW instructor's logo on it .

I often remarked that because of my involvement in the red and white dive flag that I should some day have a dive flag ring custom made.

No need -I discovered a red and white dive flag ring at the dive show which was the correct proportions of 5X4X1 in a sterling silver mounting. It didn't take much for Roland St John who markets over 100 dive and ocean related products under the name of Big Blue to have my hard earned California dollars in his pocket and a shiny new dive flag ring on my finger.

After returning home my wife saw the ring and we determined a dive flag ring would be perfect as a conventional wedding band while traveling and diving. So we contacted Roland who honored the show price of $30.00.--rather than the advertised price of $75.00

Now we are a two dive flag ring family...very few can boast of being a two ring dive couple

If interested I would suggest that you might want to check out the rings at ~~ Big Blue Aquatic Gifts - Marine Life Jewelry, Art, Conservation - Categories ~~

Roland has indicated he will honor the show price of $30.00 to July 30th. You may order on line at ~~ SALES@BIGBLUEDIVE.COM or via telephone (401) 625 9758.

As I urged a half century ago in my SDM article "Sign post for Safety" that all divers to publicize and display the flag" you can publicize the ring 24X7 by wearing one of Roland's Dive flag rings.

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