Two Americans have ignited a race to build the world's tallest flagpoles --  here are some of their record-breaking designs

Trident support corp tajikistan flagpole david chambers dushanbeTrident SupportThe 162 meter Dushanbe, Tajikistan flagpole — second-tallest flagpole in the world and proudly built by Trident Support.

Over the last decade a surreal battle has played out across the globe: The race to build the world’s tallest flagpole.

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, and the UAE have all held the record at one point — locked in a bizarre nationalist rivalry pushing flagpoles ever-taller.

Two Americans have profited handsomely from this competition. Their company, Trident Support, has been responsible for five of the last six record-breaking flagpoles built over the last 10 years.

Last year, I spoke to Trident founders David Chambers and Marc Summers, to find out how they managed to build and command a market for flagpoles that defy gravity.

I first heard about Trident while working in Tajikistan in 2013. At 165 metres, the Dushanbe flagpole was the tallest in the world at the time. It reportedly cost up to $40 million (£25 million), according to ABC News.

It's only marginally smaller than the 180-meter 'Gherkin' tower in London.

Locals loved it! Situated in a vast Presidential complex, it seemed like a vanity project, but Tajiks I spoke to regarded it as a real symbol of national pride.

On my return, I tracked down Summers and Chambers to ask how they got into this business.

The top of a 123 meter flagpole in Sharjah.

'If you'd told me 15 years ago that we were going to be building flagpoles as our primary business, I would have said you were crazy,' Summers said.

Cofounder David Chambers at the base of the Aqaba, Jordan flagpole -- then still under construction.

The pair originally worked in defence logistics. But then a 'fairly influential' person in the UAE approached them and asked for a flagpole -- the largest in the world.

It was a 122-meter success!

For reference, that's 29 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty, which clocks in at 93 meters.

After that the Royal Hashemite Court in Jordan came knocking to ask for their own (127 meters), and it just went from there. They quit their day jobs, and went full-time flag building.

Guinness World Records ended up creating a new category for what Trident was building: 'unsupported flagpoles.'

North Korea at one point claimed to hold the world record for the world's tallest flagpole, at 160 meters. It wasn't built by Trident, and isn't what you'd consider an 'unsupported' flagpole. (According to Summers it's 'just a radio tower with a flag on top.')

In 2008, they built the 133-meter Ashgabat Flagpole in Turkmenistan -- then a world-record.

That's even taller than Godzilla, who stood around 108 meters tall in his 2014 big screen outing.

Ashgabat's record was broken by the 162-meter National Flagpole in Baku, Azerbaijan, completed in 2007. Trident Support built it too.

Chambers said Azerbaijan is one of the 'craziest' jobs the company has ever done. The capital of Baku is one of the windiest cities on earth. 'It took us months, simply due to delays with the wind,' Chamber said. 'You'd get one section up, then a windstorm would hit and last for two weeks and we could do nothing.'

A construction worker works on a Trident Flagpole in Sharjah, UAE.

In 2011, Baku was overtaken by the 165-meter flagpole in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Yep -- Trident built that one as well.

The base of the Dushanbe Flagpole.

The flag itself is huge too -- 30 meters high and 60 meters across.

Here's Summers accepting the Guinness World Record for the world's tallest flagpole with Emonali Rahmon, the President of Tajikistan.

Not every flag they build in their 'Monumental' and 'Stately' flagpole lines are record-breakers. This one is in Kalba in the UAE is a mere minnow -- just 75 meters tall.

(They also build regular-sized flagpoles, but these aren't so impressive.)

Chambers thinks it's patriotism that drives the race for the world's highest flagpole. 'I thought Americans were patriotic, but when it comes to the biggest and the highest, you cannot beat the natural pride of people in this part of the world.'

Unfortunately, Trident Support doesn't hold the current record. That belongs to the Jeddah Flagpole (171 meter) in Saudi Arabia. It was built by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiative in 2014.

That's just under half the height of the Empire State Building -- 381 meters.

Here's that visualised -- including the Jeddah flagpole, Trident's first in the UAE, and some of the world's tallest buildings.

(Flags not necessarily to scale.)

Despite this setback, Trident really is the market leader for giant flagpoles. On the company's website, it boasts it has 'built more flagpoles taller than 75 metres than all the other companies in the world combined.'

A Trident Support-built flagpole in Aqaba, Jordan.

There's a lesson in here for would-be entrepreneurs: Create your own market. 'We didn't identify a gap in the market; there was no market,' Chambers said. 'We fell into the first pole and, all of a sudden, boom -- we created a market. We created our own demand.'

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