Why is the flag on Air Force One improper

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by dianxx, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. dianxx

    dianxx New Member

    WHY did President Obama order the flag on Air Force One be displayed incorrectly? The union (blue field) is observed on the right.

    8. When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    President Obama did not change the orientation of the flag. When a decal or painting of the flag is displayed on a vehicle the union (blue part with stars) is always placed towards the front of the vehicle. When the flag happens to be displayed on the right side of an auto or aircraft, it is displayed with the union to the observer's right so that the union is advancing and the stripes trail behind.

    American Flag patches worn on soldier's right shoulder/arm are also displayed with the union to the observer's right to symbolice advancement, not retreat.

  3. dianxx

    dianxx New Member

    Thanks...I can understand maybe why a soldier would do this..."as a symmbolice of advancement, not retreat" but why on the Presidents Airplane?
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    "...but why on the Presidents Airplane?"

    Because a flag painted on an aircraft is not displayed "against a wall." It is on a moving object and any real flag placed on (or carried by) a moving object, whether it is a soldier advancing in battle, a car in a parade, or Air Force One, is going to "fly" with the union forward and the stripes trailing. That is why the flag is painted on the President's jet with the union forward and the stripes trailing, because that symbolizes forward motion (and whether heading east, west, right or left, "forward" is the only direction a jet can fly.)
    Thanks for your question.
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    The flag code itself doesn't say anything one way or the other about the orientation of a flag painted on a vehicle or aircraft. Air Force regulations, however, state that the union should face forward, as Nick described. This has nothing to do with President Obama, of course. The current version of the AF regulation was adopted in 2006, during the Bush II administration, and in any case it did not change the protocol. There is a photo here:

    Air Force One 2 pictures from news photos on webshots

    of the B-707 that was used as Air Force One during the Reagan and Bush I administrations. It's displayed at the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library. As you can see, the flag on right side of the tail has the union facing forward.

    I believe that most civilian airlines follow the military regulation. They don't have to, of course, but it makes sense for the reasons that Nick explained.

    Peter Ansoff
  6. dianxx

    dianxx New Member

  7. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Guess it can be either way.

    Well, yes -- the union always faces the front of the aircraft, so it will be on the viewer's left on the left side and to the right on the right side.

    I've noticed that civilian vehicles (buses, police cars, etc.) often do not follow this protocol -- they often put the union to the rear on the right side. I suspect that this is mostly a matter of economics. They typically use decals or stencils, and most flag decals and stencils are manufactured with the union on the left.

    With respect to flag patches on military uniforms, the services are somewhat inconsistent. The Army puts the flag on the right sleeve, and faces the union to the viewer's right. The other services, and NASA, put the flags on the left sleeve and avoid the problem. Civilian uniforms (sports teams, etc.) typically put the union on the viewer's left whichever sleeve it's on, probably for the same economic reason.

    By the way, welcome to the forum!


    Peter A.

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