The Eagle Has Landed

After years of trial and error, we finally settled on a flag pole and finial for Cloud 9. It may not seem like a big deal, but had we known then what we know now, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and money. For the uninitiated, many Airstreamers display flags on or near their rigs. In fact, the Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI), our Airstream club, has detailed policies on how to properly fly flags at gatherings. Flags serve a number of purposes, including identifying groups or individuals and showing respect for the nation.

In the Trump era, we’ve observed many campers who display certain flags as a sign of political or personal protest. Why else would anyone fly the Jolly Roger, or Don’t Tread on Me, or Confederate flags? They all communicate something about the occupants of the rig.

We fly the U.S. flag along with the Marine Corps flag to signal our love of country and to honor Cliff’s military service. Some Airstreamers have elaborate set-ups, with from three to five flags presented in a spoke configuration on a pole bracket. For a few years, we had a smaller display of three flags that we adhered to our front window with a suction cup. But we always longed for something more substantial.

Enter our 20-foot telescoping flagpole with a satin-aluminum finish. We like it for its sturdiness and heft. It’s wind-rated at 85 mph, so we’re confident that it will hold up under all but hurricane or tornado conditions. We “mount” the pole using a device called a tire foot–a metal plate with a pipe that we secure beneath the trailer tongue jack (it can also be secured under a truck or trailer tire, hence the name). Topping it off is a golden eagle finial, which is used primarily by the Navy, and by government officials and military officers who are entitled to a salute of 19 or more guns. But because there are no regulations limiting its use by private citizens, we opted for the spread eagle as an additional nod to Cliff’s time in the Navy. 

While the universal custom is to display the flag only between sunrise and sunset, it can be displayed during the hours of darkness if it is properly illuminated. To light our flags, we chose an electric clip-on lamp with an LED spotlight. We tried a solar-charge version but were dissatisfied with the diminished light over the course of the night.

So, after more than five years of camping, we’ve finally achieved our desired effect. Take a tip from us: Get the right equipment the first time. Don’t compromise or try to do something “on the cheap.” Respectfully displaying the flag is both a right and a privilege, and, as such, should be carefully planned and executed, no matter how long it takes.