Singapore flag painted backwards on SIA plane

From ‘Flag painted wrongly’, 18 July 2013, ST Forum

(Ganesh Ram Ragavan): WHEN I flew from Changi Airport recently, I noticed that the Singapore national flag was painted in the wrong orientation on several Singapore Airlines aircraft.

SIA planes serve as ambassadors for our country. So I hope SIA will look into this matter with urgency and resolve it.

A simple Google search will explain to you why flags are painted the ‘wrong way’ is an airline convention (because it’s meant to mimic how a flag will appear when a plane is moving forward and there’s a pole next to the crescent). Obviously, the writer was only looking at the plane on its right side, because if he had the chance to view the left side, he would see the flag in the ‘correct’ orientation, ‘blowing’ in the wind, as it would appear if one had imagination. Also, if it were a genuine cock-up, what are the chances of it happening on SEVERAL aircraft?

In 2007, someone was sharp enough to spot the same ‘mistake’ on the news and felt that SIA should be alerted.

In 1989, SIA responded to the exact same query and defended the convention by saying that the airline flies the flag PROUDLY and NORMALLY. Though it’s a harmless enough question to ask in private like why AMBULANCE is spelt backwards, one should at least do some basic research before suggesting in the press that SIA has committed a careless, unpatriotic act. I expected SIA to give a robust response to this letter, and here it is published the following day in ST Forum 19 July 2013:

…According to flag etiquette, a national flag should never be seen to be flying backwards.

For this reason, a mirror image of the Singapore flag is painted on the starboard (right) side of our aircraft fuselages, as shown in the photo that was published.

Perhaps they should have also sent the writer a model plane as a gift so he can figure out how this magical reverse flag phenomenon works. If you don’t like to play with small planes, you just need a mini Singapore flag and a fan to quench your curiosity.

I’m not sure, though, if you may put up the flag outside your house FACING you and use the imaginary flagpole argument to explain why it appears wrong to those looking in from the outside. Or if it’s legal to display the flag SIA style on your car or motorcycle and give the police a lesson in how the wind blows if they stop you for questioning. Well at least they didn’t paint it UPSIDE DOWN, though that’s how our flags have been raised once in a while.


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