The "Fun Flag"
The History of a Treasured Banner
By Chris Wagner
As best as I remember, and I've reached the point where I can
claim diminishing memory because of advancing years if I get any
points "confused", the Fun Flag first appeared at the
1985 World Meet in Yugoslavia (back when it was a "pink"
communist single-state that produced such luxury items as the
"Yugo") with the Canadian Delegation.
Anyway, the Canadian Delegation was notorious for its
fun-loving antics; such things as getting obnoxiously drunk on the
dinner-boat cruise and then singing "God Bless America"
at the top of their lungs to shift blame, and planting
"innocently incriminating" evidence in other delegations
baggage while the Yugo Secret Police were clandestinely going
through everyone's hotel rooms looking for the official FAI flag
that had mysteriously disappeared shortly after everyone was
warned not to touch it...
Have I mentioned yet how much it sucks to watch the World Meet
live over the internet in lieu of being there?
But I digress. At some point at the close of the '85 World
Meet, the Canadians presented the Fun Flag to the team they felt
best represented it: The U.S. 4-way team "Air Bears" and
its Team Captain, Tommy Piras. From this point on, it was
traditional for the team possessing the Fun Flag to pass it on to
another team at some opportune time. If fuzzy memory serves me,
Tommy presented it the Golden Knights 8-way at the 1986 U.S.
Nationals in Muskogee, after which we carried it to the '86 French
Nationals in Lapalisse, the '86 British Army Nationals in
Neatheraven, the '86 Australian Army Nationals in Tagooliwa, a
tiny island in the middle of the Pacific called Kwajelien, and the
'87 US Nationals in Muskogee. In 1987 the Knights passed it on to
another team - I think the French 4-way "TAG-Heuer", at
the World Meet in Foz de Iguacu, Brazil. In 1988 it was passed
back to the Knights at the 1988 World Cup in Vichy (where the
World Meets of S&A and CF were also being conducted
simultaneously). Sometime shortly thereafter I was engaged in a
vodka-drinking contest with Alexander, Team Captain of "Blue
Lightning", the Soviet 8-way team (yup, the same Alexander
who's now coaching the Russian 8-way). After about 10 repetitions
of: 1) drink large shot of vodka (or lighter fluid, I'm not sure),
2) slam down glass upside-down, 3) yell "HAH" at top of
lungs while keeping the vomit reflex down, and 4) doing 20
push-ups, we somehow managed to figure out that we were stupid and
I somehow managed to stagger the half klick back to the dorm where
I called Mary while I was drunk for the one and only time, and
remembered very little until boarding the plane for home the next
But I digress again. Have I mentioned yet how much it sucks to
watch the World Meet live over the internet in lieu of being
there? Anyway, at the 1989 World Meet in Ampuriabrava, Spain,
several of us were lounging around the U.S.A. tent when we spotted
a group of suspicious-looking skydivers walking our way, carrying
something and wearing sheep-eating grins. As they got closer we
recognized it was the Norwegian delegation (who always naturally
look suspicious, but less so than the Canadians), and that they
were carrying the Fun Flag. It seems that they had
"borrowed" it at Vichy the previous year, and were now
returning it, concerned that we had been worrying ourselves to
death trying to find it. "Didn't we get presented the Fun
Flag last year?" a fellow GK says; "Yeh, we did!"
says another; and "So what are they doing with it?" says
a third, followed by "No wonder I hadn't seen it all
year!". The joke was on both our teams - we never even
realized that it had been missing for an entire year!
Retrospect: World Meet 1989. Al Gore had just invented the
internet just a few years previously, but there was no such thing
as the World Wide Web. The Berlin Wall was still standing, East
and West divided, and cracks were appearing in the political
barriers between the two. The Soviet Team still traveled with
"Chaperones," couldn't travel alone and had to make
curfew (though I did drag Alexander downtown for a drink one
night). Making overseas calls from a hotel telephone was virtually
impossible (don't even think about getting an incoming call), and
calls from official phone booths cost about the same as a jump
ticket. When my daughter was born during official practice, the
only way they could pass me the news was through the DZ fax
machine. There was no OmniSkore, though its direct ancestor
existed in DiveDraw, which the GK used for producing training
rounds. Today, I can check the OmniSkore TIDBITS for up-to-date
news, weather and sports; and even get the scores before they are
officially posted, and call anywhere anytime dirt cheap on a cell
I don't recall who we then passed it on to at the end of the
'89 World Meet, we may have "officially" passed it on to
Norway. I think we (the Knights) received it again at the 1990
European Cup in Gap, because I know we took it with us to the 1991
World Meet in Lucenec, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia): We flew it
proudly beneath the U.S.
flag on a pole lashed to the U.S.A. delegation trailer (I have a
photo of it there). At this time it had no patches or other
markings on it - it was still solid yellow with black letters,
though a little frayed on the ends. It did have one
"attachment": a white and red bikini-top flown in honor
of the Canadian Judge's husband, who had just recently died in a
skydiving accident (I am personally horrified with myself for not
remembering their names).
I don't recall who or how we then passed it on to at the end of
the '91 World Meet. Later, when I was able to visit the 1993 World
Meet and the 2000 World Cup in Eloy, I made it a point to see if
the Fun Flag was still being passed along and was happy to see
that it was. It is probably long overdue for a history of the Fun
Flag to be compiled and passed on along with the flag; I for one
would be willing to donate a leather bound book for it's history
to be preserved in and to be shared with future generations. While
it is not the Ottley Sword in representing the Champions of RW/FS,
it does represent the Champions of why we started skydiving in the
Tim Wagner continues:
I spoke with Neal Houston and Jack Jefferies about the flag
yesterday (27 June) and gathered a few more details. The flag was
made by Pat "Splat" Floyd of the Canadian 8-way
team in 1985 as a motivational tool for his attitude-compromised
team. The flag found its way into the hands of Tom Piras of the
"Air Bears" for the 1985 World Meet, where it began its
adventure as detailed by Chris above.
Continuing the flag's travails, the flag wound up back in the
hands of Tommy Piras after the 1991 World Meet. Then, not long
before he died in 1992, Tommy gave the flag (and its proud story,
with instructions) to Jack Jefferies, who kept until the World Meet
at Eloy in 1993, where Neal Houston stole the flag while the US
entourage was walking to the airplane. The flag made its home in
Canada at least long enough for the Canadian 8-way team logo to
be sewn on it. Then, as the 1995 World Meet was approaching, the
flag somehow made its way to the US team via Molly Mercer (who
should pitch in her two cents here eventually). The flag remained
with the Golden Knights at least long enough to get a GK patch
sewn on. The flag then passed through the hands of Tom Falzone and
back to Neal Houston, who gave it to Airspeed for the World Meet
in Australia 1999. The flag has remained with the Arizona team
I'm sure there are many missing and/or inaccuracies to this
story of the flag, and we'll update this page as the holes get
filled in. Send your two bits to email@example.com.
The Aussies Report:
The Aussie 4-way FS team had the flag (whilst Tom Piras was
coaching in Australia) for the period Oct 1988 until about March
1989 (leading up to Ampuriabrava 98  world meet). So it
proudly flew at Corowa on and off for 6 months. As I recall, the
flag stood for Funding Under Negotiation - skydiver always want
more dollars for there next jump don't they? Closer inspection
will reveal many Aussie beer stains on this most cherished icon.
Cheers, Tim Stevens.
And Molly Mercer chimes in:
1997 1st WAG Turkey, Rd 10, Airspeed under canopy Doug Forth
headed out into the field to do the mass mad frenzied congrats
dance when it
dawned on me so was everyone else from the US delegation...so I
myself ...self it's time to put the FUN back in Canada...so with
the help of my tough trusty team mate we saddled up to the Team
USA tent and had our way with the twine on the tent pole. After a
quick tactual diversion with one of the gals still there we
divided and conquered. This was all done with the rules in tack.
Competition on, Flag at site and US delegates on the ground. Lets
just say Laidlaw was a little surprised when he walked into the US
tent to congratulate Airspeed and was almost knocked out but when
he realized what had happened, the smile was big. I then under
Lock and Key managed to get th flag home to Vancouver.
( Joester should remember why...catcha haha) During the awards
ceremony of the 1999 Nationals in Sebastian, Vertical 8 passed the
Fun Flag to Airspeed to take to the next world meet.... The reason
being.. Fun finds Fun ... always has always will! Go Big!
And the saga continues as the Fun Flag is
stolen by the Canadians at the awards ceremony:
We did end
up with it! After our failed raid they stole our Canadian flag so
we took their airblade and held it for ransom. I stole the fun
flag out of Jack Jeffries hand while he stood on the podium. They
were planning to give it to the Russians. I was only walking
behind the stage for a better photo angle when I saw the flag in
his hand and decided that it was now or never!
- Billy Porter
Pål Bergan chimes in (filling in and correcting details
from 1989) :
if i may, i could add, or even correct some of the information
here (as best remembered...)
in vichy , several countries were looking at the fun flag
as a cool reminder of a cool meet. it was even attempted
"borrowed" from the us team once during the competition.
this resulted in the team placing a guard by the flag for the
remainder of the competition, always one present at the tent as
long as the flag was up. they may have forgot this, but it seemed
obvious to many others.
after a delicate maneuver, if correctly recalled including a
blonde with big tits, the flag suddenly disappeared from the pole.
no doubt that there was fuss and confusion created among the us
team that it had disappeared. naturally, no-one that had anything
to do with this dared to get close to the us jumpers, in fear of
the knight showing their secret tricks on unprepared northerners.
the next year , correctly, it was returned to the
knights. but the situation was a little different than above
described: on the opening ceremony of the world championship all
nations jumped into the stadium with their national flags. it was
a beautiful sight, but one of flags was very hard to determine the
nationality of, but closer to landing in front of the us team tent
it became obvious, where the fun flag was returned in a gentleman
if it is so that the knights had forgotten this, it comes as a
surprise to us and the few knowing spectators lounging discretely
by the us tent. at least it seemed to us that the knights were
happy for the return, but of course we might have been totally
confused and misunderstood the entire situation being excited and
all after jumping from 3000 feet.
but, even with harsh winters, the norwegians were not
completely snowed in between these meets, and maybe remember this
in another light, as it was considered quite a challenging feat at
the time, and a better story at the end.
thanks for the opportunity
humbly, on behalf of the norwegian national team 1988/1999