Father and son solve tangled flag challenge
By Pat Kumpan, Rancho Bernardo News
Two inventors — a father- and
son-in-law team — hope to end the frustration that many flag lovers experience
when their flags get wrapped around a flag pole — and don’t fly proudly.
Bill Riordan of Rancho
Bernardo found that he was constantly unwrapping his flag, going out into his
yard several times to fix the situation.
So he turned to another flag
lover — his father-in-law, Alan Laird, who lives in Mission Viejo. Together the
duo tackled the problem.
They decided that the simple
and most obvious solution was incorporating the use of a bearing into a
cleverly designed product that would look good esthetically, yet do the job.
The flag gets attached with a
tie-wrap to the ball bearing, which is completely concealed inside a flat metal
doughnut-shaped device that fits snuggly on top of a three-fourths inch flag
Meanwhile, at the end of the
pole, a small section of ball chain attaches to the bottom of the pole to
prevent that end of the flag from getting tangled.
Riordan works at Hewlett
Packard, and Laird, now retired, was a mechanical engineer in the aerospace
industry. Together, the duo knew they could find what they hoped would be a
viable solution to a perplexing problem.
“I love tinkering with
things,” Laird said. “I just knew we could come up with something that works.”
They also devised a package
that makes it easy for people to install on their existing flag.
The “untangler,” as the family
calls it, costs $12.95 online and all the parts are manufactured in the United
Debbie Riordan is making the
project a family affair by helping to market the product locally, but she
expects many of the orders will come from the Web site: flagfree.com.
Once the start-up company gets
going, the family will donate $2 for every kit sold to the QUAD foundation, a
recently formed charity to help survivors of quadriplegic injuries.
This new invention is being
test marketed as part of a flag accessories display at a hardware store in Mission
Viejo, Riordan said.