Flag Pole Height Chart and Maritime Flag Arrangements

DrillMasterHonor Guard Training, Instructional 3 Comments

Flag Pole Height

For our purposes, flagpole means a permanent pole in the ground and flagstaff is one that is carried.

For flagpoles a general rule of thumb is the height of the flag should be 1/3 or 1/5 the height of the flagpole (the pole should be three or five times the height of the flag). Here is an example.

For a twenty-five foot flagpole:

  • 1/5 of twenty-five is five.
  • 1/3 of twenty-five is eight (rounded down).

Flying a flag that is larger than recommended could result in damage to the flagpole, halyard and/or hardware.

Standardized Military Flag Sizes:

These are the only authorized flag sizes flown from military flagpoles for the Army.

  • All Purpose/Storm Flag: 5’ x 9’6″
  • Field Flag: 6’8″ x 12′
  • Post Flag: 8′ 11 3/8″ x 17’
  • Garrison Flag: 20’ x 38’

Flagpole and Equivalent Flag Size Chart (1/5)

15’: 3’x5’
20’: 3’x5’ – 4’x6’
25’: 4’x6’ – 5’x8’
30’: 5’x8’ – 6’x10’
35’: 6’x10’ – 8’x12’
40’: 6’x10’ – 10’x15’
45’: 8’x12’ – 10’x15’
50’: 10’x15’- 12’x18’
60’: 10’x15’- 15’x25’
70’: 12’x18’ – 20’x30’
80’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
90’: 15’x25’ – 20’x38’
100’: 15’x25’ – 30’X60’

Maritime Flag Arrangements

Maritime Mast

For the most part, the provisions of the Flag Code are manifest in the traditions and customs for the display of the Ensign ( American flag) by seamen. The following provisions are made for the display of the flag on a mast located on a base.

1. Single Mast (no Yard or Gaff)
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” All other flags are pennants flown below Ensign.

2. Mast with Yardarm:
” Ensign is flown at the truck (#1).
” Organizational burgee (flag) is flown at the starboard (right) yard arm (#3).

3. Mast with a Yardarm and Gaff:
” Ensign is flown at the gaff (#2).
” Burgee is flown at the truck (#1).
” Flags at #3 and #4 vary depending on the activity at the organization.

It is display #3 which causes the most confusion. This puts the club burgee in a higher position physically, but not above that of the Ensign symbolically. By the normal Flag Code provisions, this would seem to be an incorrect display. The tradition of the seas, however, is to hold the gaff as the position of honor; thus, the intent of this tradition and display is to give proper respect to the flag.

Where a yard is involved, rules provide that when a foreign ensign is displayed, the Ensign is flown at #3; the foreign ensign at #4; the club burgee at #1; and other flags at #2.

The gaff extends aft (to the rear), and a mast on yacht club grounds is faced seaward. Therefore the gaff will (or should) be directed toward the land. The observation point then becomes a point somewhere on the sea side of the mast. This then makes the placement of the Ensign in regard to the foreign ensign conform to Flag Code provisions.

Comments 3

  1. Question: we have a 50 foot flagpole with gaff and yardarm at our yacht club. What size should the Ensign (American flag) be when flown from the gaff? Same size as if flying alone at truck of pole with no gaff? Or smaller? Thanks for any guidance!

    1. Post

      Mr. Pickett,

      The guidance for flag size for a pole/mast is 1/3rd or 1/5th the height of the pole.

      You can read about that here: https://thedrillmaster.org/2014/11/18/flag-pole-height-chart-and-maritime-flag-arrangements/

      The reasoning behind the dimensions restriction is for 1)safety. If the flag is too large, a good gust of wind or strong sustained wind can bend or even break the pole.

      This might be too restrictive for the gaff, however. Depending on the length of the gaff, 2×3 or 3×4/3×5 might be best.

      Please let me know if you have any further questions.


  2. I didn’t know that the flag is usually 1/3 or 1/5 the height of the flagpole. I want to buy one for my house before the Fourth of July. I’ll go look for a flag and a flagpole that are proportionate to each other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *