August 26, 2022 145 Comments

Look up. Did you see it? Stars and stripes waving in the air, suspended almost as if it’s part of the sky itself?

When you saw it, did you follow it?

Did you follow the flag?

In 2015, Kyle Fox of Pleasant Grove, Utah decided to follow an idea he had to fly an American flag over Grove Creek Canyon, but it wasn’t just any flag. Fox and a team of rock rigging experts and local volunteers hung a giant flag that could be seen for miles and miles. According to Fox, that one flag would be the start of something bigger than even he could comprehend.

Largest flying American flag - The Major - lit with spotlight over Grove Canyon, Utah
'Lady Liberty' billows majestically during the third watch over Grove Creek Canyon. - P.C. Drew Armstrong

“We chose to surprise our community on July 4 and fly a flag without permission,” Fox said. “What came from it is something that I’ve described as picking us. It has impacted people in ways that we didn’t plan for.”

That first flag, the team named “Little Betsy,” because as the vision grew, so did the flag.

By 2017, a team of volunteers including the late Gail Halvorsen, also known as “The Candy Bomber,” assembled what is now affectionately known as “Big Betsy.” At 400 pounds, 154 feet long, 78 feet wide with 6-feet wide stripes and 5-feet in diameter stars, Big Betsy is the largest American flag that has ever flown in history -- yet it isn’t about that. According to Fox, flying the flag high that first day, and all the days since then has been about giving people hope during times when hope is often lost.

"The Flag Represents Us All"

As word got out about the larger than life flags, the movement began to take flight with many asking to have the flag flown to represent their loved ones lost. That’s when Fox said the “Healing Flights” began.

Largest flying American flag - The Major - Flying over Coldwater Canyon, Utah
'The Major' named in honor of Major Brent Taylor flys over Coldwater Canyon. - P.C. Drew Armstrong

In 2018, the flag flew its first Healing Flight in North Ogden over Cold Water Canyon in memory of Major Brent Taylor who was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 3, of that year. This flight that lasted for an entire week, reminded the community of the ultimate sacrifice that many servicemen and women make for America.

The following year in 2019, however, the flag flew for 5-year-old Elizabeth Shelley from Cache Valley, Utah who was tragically lost in a senseless act of violence. The flight brought a mourning community together to work toward healing.

That same year, the team was called to fly a flag in Tucson, Arizona to offer healing to the families who were massacred in La Mora, Mexico. Just last year a flag was flown in Boulder, Colorado to help a community heal after a shooting at a grocery store killed 10 people.

Each flight, Fox says, is about bringing communities together, and he said that the American flag is that thing that represents us all.

Flags lining the road to Corporal Wayne Tony Taylor memorial service.
Flags line the road to Corporal Wayne Tony Taylor Memorial service. - P.C. Drew Armstrong

“We do this for soldiers and civilians,” Fox said. “We’ve recognized an opportunity for us to give back and combat the darkness and evil that surrounds us in this world. It may be the largest American flag that has ever flown in history, but the title doesn’t mean anything to me. It's the stories that have been told that are so much more important to me than how big the flag really is.”

Visibility Is Key in Bringing the Community Together

While Fox said that it wasn’t about how big the flag is, he said that it is important that the flags be placed where the community can see it.

“Visibility is so important, which is why we love to find canyons to fly in,” Fox said. “The beauty of nature will capture you, and then you add the element of the flag there flying freely. The one thing about flying a flag in the canyon that is different than most, is the setting. You're not seeing a flag on the pole in a grocery store; it’s out in the middle of nature, and the flagpole is a rope. The flag will fly 150 feet in either direction, and when it flies out there, it is like a bird.”

Fox said that he hopes to inspire the next generation of patriots who will fly their respective flags high for years to come.

Kyle Fox honeree and speaker at America's Freedom Festival award ceremony in Provo, Utah
Kyle Fox, honoree and speaker at America's Freedom Festival award ceremony in Provo, Utah. - P.C. Drew Armstrong

“We love our country. We’d do anything for our country,” Fox said. “We’re raising the next generation."

“The flag has thousands and thousands of threads, and eventually they start sewing these threads and memories into the fabric. .... I’m just trying to spark those experiences that make you a patriot. What we all have in common is the American flag.”

Follow the Flag

Fox and his “Follow the Flag” team have several upcoming events where the flag will fly for one week. One such event will happen on September 11 in Twin Falls, Idaho. The flag will fly for one week from the Perrine Memorial Bridge in order to give members in the community a chance to experience what it’s like to see it fly in all its glory.

Perrine Memorial Bridge Over Snake River Near Twin Falls, Idaho.
Perrine Memorial Bridge Over Snake River Near Twin Falls, Idaho. - P.C. Angela Black

“The spirit of America and all of it just collapses on you. It’s a little bit like Christmas to us because we know what will happen when we unfurl the flag on September 11,” Fox said. “There are running paths along the rim of Twin Falls, so if runners want to run on it, it will be pretty neat.

For more information on how you can follow the flag, or schedule a flag flying in your area, go to followtheflag.org

Author Ari Brown is a mom of nine, trail and ultra runner and freelance writer who has had articles published and syndicated in national publications. In her free time she likes to ... Wait! What free time?

You can find photographer and vidiographer Drew Armstrong's work here: Drew Armstrong Photo and Videography

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45 Responses

Faye Gates
Faye Gates

September 02, 2022

I would love to see this flag. I never loved my country more until the 9/11 attacks. We were so vulnerable. I am proud to stand and put my hand over my heart every time I hear our National Anthem.

Donna Stephenson
Donna Stephenson

September 02, 2022

As I read the article I found tears running down my cheeks…such a wonderful gift to give our country. I admire the flights in memory of not only our servicemen and woman but civilians as well. Our country has forgotten how to care and respect each other and this is such a great reminder to remember to never forget. I wish I could see this in person but knowing that is not a possibility THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this article it made my day better. God Bless

David Paul Vande Vooren
David Paul Vande Vooren

September 02, 2022

I am a proud American, that belives our country signifies hope, prosperity and freedom. I always stand, think about those who died for my freedom, and say the pledge of allegiance or sing national anthem. You honoring the flag is unbelievably amazing. May our flag always hang high, proud and honored.

Kevin Schultz
Kevin Schultz

September 02, 2022

After 911 it was amazing to see every little town along my route have flags lining the streets. It sure picked up my spirits and gave me and my family hope that we would be ok. That our country would heal. And for the most part it has, despite the last few years. The people in my circle still believe in that flag and what it represents. With those HUGE flags again it shows Americans still believe. Thank you for that!!

Anita Hamilton
Anita Hamilton

September 02, 2022

Giving hope where hope is possibly lost! I love that. Thinking of to many threads used to make the flags. Reading about who has been honored by the flag when requested was inspiring. I know one can request the flag to fly over their community to honor someone.

William Demmitt
William Demmitt

September 02, 2022

After tens of thousands of Americans have died to preserve that flag and our Republic, it will forever be the BEST flag of this planet….I love the U S A!!!!!

Karen Bellomy
Karen Bellomy

September 02, 2022

love to see this happening America is great and the flag represents unity and freedom for us all and should be hung everywhere

Lindsay
Lindsay

September 02, 2022

’Merica at its finest!

Stephen Tullos
Stephen Tullos

September 02, 2022

As an Army and Air force veteran, what you and your group are doing is very special. Thank you for keeping the spirit of hope lit in this country. Godspeed.

Raven
Raven

September 02, 2022

Remembering 9/11 and how we all came together as a nation. I believe this tribute has the same feeling to me. Where we are as a nation currently is so sad and divided. I wish we could all stand together as one nation again without the trauma of 9/11. Please let’s remember and NEVER FORGET how we felt that tragic day and let’s all make an effort to support and live one another.

Chris
Chris

September 02, 2022

Phenomenal displays!

Tina
Tina

September 02, 2022

What a great tribute.

SusieJean Johnson
SusieJean Johnson

September 02, 2022

God bless America!!! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Linsey LaPlant
Linsey LaPlant

September 02, 2022

This is so cool! I also wish I could be there to see it in person. There is a huge (but that this huge) flag flying along the major interstate where I live and someone always comments on how majestic it looks every time we drive by.

Vivienne Treharne
Vivienne Treharne

September 02, 2022

Thank you, as a veteran and citizen this makes me so Proud to be an American!

Carol Occhino
Carol Occhino

September 02, 2022

Such a meaningful tribute, using a national symbol of unity to honor and unite all of us

Frank Lomuscio
Frank Lomuscio

September 02, 2022

With everyone being entitled to their own opinion, let’s just remember to respect that right just as we respect the flag and all it represents

Tom Ohlman
Tom Ohlman

September 02, 2022

What an awesome organization! Thanks Kyle!

Lisa Barrett
Lisa Barrett

September 02, 2022

We need our communities coming together more now than ever I believe. God Bless this vision. Many thanks to those who have served!!

Sharon S
Sharon S

September 02, 2022

The American flag stands for freedom, pride, and greatness. I would love to see the largest one in person, what a sight that would be!

Mark Fabela
Mark Fabela

September 02, 2022

Man what an awesome thing for you guys to do and fly Old Glory over the canyon. What a sight to see in person and that night shot!! You guys are America’s all about.
Let’s see ANYONE try to mess with that flag, we’ll let Freedom reign down on them!!

Debbie Dubois
Debbie Dubois

September 02, 2022

Oue flag is a true honor my son is a Corporal of the Marine Corp so thankful for our military AMERIAN PROUD

Justin Ryman
Justin Ryman

September 02, 2022

I take notice when I see a new flag in a new location. Be it a business or a residence, it’s eye catching.

Richard Wallace
Richard Wallace

September 02, 2022

Let FREEDOM ring, my friend; let FREEDOM ring!

Justin Sparks
Justin Sparks

September 02, 2022

I know as a former Military man an Army Vet to be more specific anytime I see a flag and hear the national anthem I can’t help but tear up. I can’t help but think about all the brothers I have now and I also think about the brothers who didn’t get to make it home. I think this is a great service to honor all veterans and all of the brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Barbara
Barbara

September 02, 2022

Whenever I see the red, white and blue waving in the wind my heart and soul warm up. We must always keep blessed in our hearts those who gave the ultimate sacrifice , those who suffer today from both physical and mental injuries and those who are actively serving whose future is unknown. May they always keep our flag flying in the wind. We must always cherish the freedom we have living in USA.
Not just on holidays, but every day. May our flag forever fly in the air! 💝

Barbara
Barbara

September 02, 2022

My heart and soul warm up when I see the red, white and blue waving in the air. We must never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who today have physical and mental wounds and those who are serving today whose future is unknown.

Melinda Gregerson
Melinda Gregerson

September 02, 2022

The Major is…free to fly. Free to exemplify. Free to cry out a call for each and everyone to come together! To be a people of the United States of America and encompass all for which it stands for.

Barbara
Barbara

September 02, 2022

I feel the love in my heart and soul when I see the red, white and blue waving in the wind. We must always remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who current tly have

Barbara
Barbara

September 02, 2022

The American flag – the sign of peace, love and freedom. Just looking at it gives a feeling
of warmth and pride💝💝 We live in the greatest country and we should never forget this. Every day is a blessing. We need to honor those who fought for us. Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who live with lifetime wounds both physical and mental, and those
who are actively serving today whose future is to come to them. I love everyone for their belief in the USA. God bless ever

It warms my heart and soul when I look at the red, white and blue waving in the air. We must always remember those who served to keep our flag flying. We must always keep in our hearts
those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who are physically and mentally wounded today, and those who are actively serving

Chelsey F
Chelsey F

September 02, 2022

Stars five feet across?! I’d love to see Big Betsy from my own eyes! What an incredible way to bring people together and give folks a moment to pause and remember.

William Brent
William Brent

September 02, 2022

This is fantastic. I am glad that this exists and that people still care about what the flag represents.
I am looking forward to seeing this happen in person!

Ken Bacon
Ken Bacon

September 02, 2022

Love it. Glad to know there are still those with the love of our country that will go the extra mile to show it.

David
David

September 02, 2022

It is good to see stories like this about flying the flag, which is almost universally viewed as a symbol of hope and freedom. In an era where you routinely hear about someone being ordered to take down a flag because of an obscure HOA rule, flying a giant flag, that Paul Bunyan himself would have a hard time carrying, is a reminder that not everyone has gone crazy.
Daniel Rotenberg
Daniel Rotenberg

September 02, 2022

No other flag comes close to evoking the amount of pride and respect this country deserves.

John Redding
John Redding

September 02, 2022

That is amazing to read. I want to see that myself!!

Brian Toltzman
Brian Toltzman

September 02, 2022

Love this country

David C Peters
David C Peters

September 02, 2022

The flag…no mater the size, a lapel pin, a tie tack the size of a football field does not come close to the patriotism it represents. The size is equal to the depth and width of my red white and blue heart. Which can never be deminished.!

Brad Juneau
Brad Juneau

September 02, 2022

Totally awesome. I’d love it see it firsthand.

Bryan Wiese
Bryan Wiese

September 02, 2022

That is a huge flag and it’s totally awesome what they are doing with flying that flag!!!!

Julie Parrish
Julie Parrish

September 02, 2022

What a memorable experience to see in person and I wish I could be there to watch it. Whenever I hear the national anthem and see the flag flying high I always get an emotional feeling.

Dave Stephenson
Dave Stephenson

September 02, 2022

Great idea, but Kyle should consider using a hologram projection—you could do it to a huge size!

Shiloh Herr
Shiloh Herr

September 02, 2022

Kyle and his family put on the most emotional and loving events to honor so many in our communities! I have had the honor of working with this group a couple times and I will forever love Follow the Flag! Running under the American flag is such a powerful moment as well! Can’t say enough about it to be honest!

jim bulkowski
jim bulkowski

September 02, 2022

The Red, White, and Blue are a beautiful and important part of American history. May it fly forever more!

Sharon Meagher
Sharon Meagher

September 02, 2022

I wish I could be there to see it

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