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The Diver's Flag-The Genesis
by Dr. Sam Miller
? 2006 Dr. Sam Miller
All Rights Reserved.

The first mention of a proposed divers flag was forty eight years ago in the September 1957 issue of Skin Diver Magazine (SDM). Michigan native Ted B. Nixon announced that he was designing a flag exclusively to denote recreational diving activity and requested suggestions for designs that could be accepted nationally.

In the ensuing months considerable research was done to determine the best design for a flag. Considerations as to it's size for ability to attaching to a float, bright colors for high visibility , and a distinct design unlike any other flag in the world. Lots of suggestions poured in but nothing was unique.

Finally, in the February 1958, issue of SDM Ted summarized the suggestions and identified the pros and cons of each design. He concluded with a strong recommendation that the Divers Flag be "a flag, red in color, four units high by five units wide with a one unit white stripe running diagonally across from the top nearest the staff to the lower corner.?

His design was immediately accepted by the pioneer national and international diving community. Within just a few months the manufactures had tooled up and the now familiar red flag with the white diagonal stripe began appearing on diving equipment, boats, jackets and automobile windshields within the fledgling diving community.

Most states with active diving populations, such as those states bordering the Great lakes, Florida, Texas and California immediately passed legislation recognizing the red and white flag as a flag that denotes recreational diving activities. My state, California, recognized the divers flag by including it in the official California Waterway Marker System.

The then national and international fountain head of recreational diving, Los Angeles County, passed ordnance #7803, section 66, (c) which states:

?A skin diver equipped with swim fins and a face mask if at all times he maintains with in 50 yards of him self a boat, or a surf mat, or a paddleboard, or a surfboard upon which there is a rectangular flag twelve by fifteen inches, orange/red in color with a diagonal white stripe three inches wide running from one corner diagonally to the opposite corner. The flag shall be flown high enough so as to not touch the water?.

Note "Orange/Red in color.? One of the early suggestions for the dive flag was for it to be "international orange red in color.? It discovered there was no standard for this color or ink that was capable of consistently producing an ?international Orange red color.? Somehow this color designation slipped through with this ordinance, and it remains there to this day.

The U.S. Coast guard issued directives recognizing the flag in the Atlantic and the Pacific areas of their operation. It was also officially acknowledged in the Federal register #11-3-61.


The Dive Flag has been symbolized in the sport and is highly recognizable as is this one to the entrance of Portage Quarry.

Local Dive Club Flags


Official international recognition soon followed. Canada and France were the first two countries out side the continental United States to recognize the flag as an official symbol of diving.

Thus was created the "Diving Flag? the uniting symbol of our sport, the only sport which has its own unique internationally recognized flag!

For more history of the Diver's Flag you?ll need to read my forth coming book.

Dr. Sam Miller

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