Legends of Diving Articles
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
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
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
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
Flag has been symbolized in the sport and is highly
recognizable as is this one to the entrance of Portage
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
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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? 2009 Dr. Sam Miller
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