Junior Wings – Non-Airline Issued Gift Shop, Toy, and Novelty Wings

By Lane Kranz

Most junior wings are issued directly by airlines, however there is a unique niche category among junior wing collectors commonly referred to as Non-Airline Issued Junior Wings.  This category includes novelty junior wings sold in gift shops and toy stores and even premiums found in cereal boxes.  During the golden age of aviation, airline jobs including Pilots and Stewardesses (later known as Flight Attendants), were held in high regard.  These jobs were (and to some extent still are) highly sought-after.  Those that held these positions were looked up to by children and often considered ‘dream jobs’.  Marketing capitalized on this demand and the result is a very unique and valuable piece of history.

 

Gift Shop Junior Stewardess

There are 5 known wings of this particular style.  All are the same size and format and contain “Jr. Flight Stewardess” with the individual airline logo.  All wings are gold except for Western, which is silver.  The 5 known wings are:  Eastern, Western, Continental, Braniff and Pan Am (not pictured).  Based on the logo, these wings are believed to be from the mid 1940s to early 1950s.  If you are aware of any additional wings, other than the 5 mentioned, please contact me at the link below.

Kellogg’s Cereal Premiums

Perhaps the best known non-airline issued junior wings were those found in Kellogg’s Cereal boxes.  Each Kellogg’s box contained the phrase, “wear the wings of the famous pilots”.   Kellogg’s issued 6 Junior Wings in the USA, including Eastern, TWA, National, Northwest, Continental, and United.  Additionally, it is believed that Kellogg’s issued at least 1 Junior Wing in Canada from Canadian Pacific Airlines and likely others.  Please contact me at the link below if you know of any additional Kellogg’s wings. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collector’s Buttons

Not much is known about the source of these buttons, however they are believed to be a gift shop or toy shop item.  All buttons are of identical size and feature the logo of 11 different US airlines and 1 Canadian airline.   All buttons contain “Jr. Flight Captain” except for Western Airlines which reads “Jr. Chief Pilot” and Pan Am which reads “Jr. Clipper Captain”.   If you have any additional information about these buttons, please contact me at the link below.  These buttons are believed to be from the early 1950s.

Big Wings

These large, brass wings are believed to be from a gift shop or toy store.  They feature a removable laminated center (about the size of a quarter) made of thin cardboard with a cellophane like covering.  There are 5 known airlines including:  Pan American, United, Western, Eastern, and TWA.  Based on the logo, these wings are believed to be from the late 1930s as Western Airlines was called Western Air Express until April 17, 1941.

Rings

Believe it or not, rings were a thing many decades ago.  Kids loved these!  There are multiple different styles, colors, and shapes.  These junior “rings” are believed to be from cereal boxes or candy machines.  Based on the logo, these are believed to be from the mid to late 1950s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seaboard & Western Airlines / Seaboard World Airlines Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

Seaboard & Western Airlines was founded in 1946 to connect the eastern seaboard of the United States with Western Europe and the Middle East.  Over the years, Seaboard would establish itself as the preeminent carrier of cargo on the world’s richest trade routes; routes that would eventually give rise to 25 different airline competitors.  Among many “firsts”, Seaboard was the first airline to fly an all-cargo flight across the Atlantic, first airline to land and takeoff at Idlewild (now JFK), first airline to fly support for the Berlin Airlift, and the first airline to fly a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) charter.

In addition to all-cargo flights, Seaboard flew passengers throughout its history.  Most of Seaboard’s passenger flying was done for other airlines under wet-lease contracts and for the U.S. government.  Seaboard operated a number of different aircraft types, including the DC-4, Lockheed Constellation, Canadair CL-44D, DC-8, 707, and 747.

On April 4th, 1961 the company’s name changed to Seaboard World Airlines.  On October 1, 1980 Seaboard World Airlines was absorbed by The Flying Tiger Line, Inc.  And, on December 16, 1988 The Flying Tiger Line, Inc. was absorbed by the Federal Express Corporation.

Seaboard earned the respect of the entire aviation community for its remarkable safety record: 33 years flying all over the globe, often with minimal support, without a single fatal accident.  In U.S. aviation history only Hawaiian Airlines, which started before World War II, compiled a longer record of no injuries or fatalities.

Junior Wings issued by Seaboard:  Above,  metal Future Pilot and Jr. Stewardess (both pre-1960) and plastic Junior Wing (post-1961) when the company name changed to Seaboard World.

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Junior Wings of Transamerica Airlines

Written by Lane Kranz

Transamerica Airlines was a fascinating airline with an intriguing past. The website www.transamericaairlines.org is operated by former employees. They provided the following brief history.

Brief History of Trans America Airlines
Kirk Kerkorian started operations of Los Angeles Air Services in 1948. The airline was renamed Trans International Airlines (TIA) in 1960. Kerkorian took TIA public in 1967 and used the additional cash to build a casino in Vegas called The International (later the Las Vegas Hilton). He managed to get Barbra Streisand and legendary Elvis to perform and the new hotel and those two helped to set Vegas attendance records. In the early Super70s, he bought MGM Studios in Hollywood and returned to Las Vegas to build the MGM Grand hotel (now Bally’s).

The financial services giant Transamerica began diversifying in the 1960s and ended up owning a movie distributor, a car rental agency, a machinery manufacturer, and yes this airline – though it did not change it’s name to Transamerica Airlines until 1979.

After buying TIA in 1968, Transamerica acquired Universal Airlines and Saturn Airways in the Super70s. TIA was a cargo and charter airline until deregulation. On November 2, 1979, scheduled passenger flights began for the first time on a New York-Shannon-Amsterdam route, which was just the beginning of several transatlantic routes.

An inability to operate profitably left Transamerica, which was divesting itself of its non-core businesses, looking for a buyer for the airline. It could not find one and shut down Transamerica Airlines on September 30, 1986.

Trans International issued one junior wing (1960s) and Transamerica issued one junior wing (1979-1980s).

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Junior Wings of West Coast Airlines

Written by Lane Kranz


West Coast Airlines (WCA) began operations in 1946 with a pair of DC-3s from Boeing Field in Seattle. In 1952 West Coast merged with Empire Airlines and in 1955 West Coast became one of the 13 Local Service Carriers granted permanent operating certificates. West Coast operated DC-3s, F-27s, Piper Navajo’s, and DC-9s. In 1968 a 3-way merger between West Coast Airlines, Pacific Air Lines, and Bonanza Airlines created a new carrier, known briefly as Air West, and later as Hughes Air West. Their legacy continued over the next several decades as Hughes Air West was acquired by Republic Airlines, then Northwest Airlines, and later Delta Air Lines. Ironically, Delta Air Lines now operates a growing and thriving hub at SEA, only 7 ½ miles from West Coast’s original headquarters at Boeing Field.

West Coast issued 4 known junior wings. Each of these wings are laminated plastic with a pin on the back. The wings with the WCA logo are from the 1940s and 1950s era. The wings with the newer, stylized logo are from the early to mid-1960s. A rare piece of history from a remarkable airline.

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Airport Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

There is an emerging market in the world of junior wings—Airport Junior Wings!  While airlines rarely introduce new junior wings today, many airports around the country are adding junior wings to support their airport help desks and to give to young people on tours.

Many airports have issued junior wings going back over 50 years.  Often the name of the airport is a clear indicator of when a wing was issued.  For example, in New Orleans the MSY code was derived from Moisant Stock Yards.  It was named after daredevil aviator John Moisant who died in 1910 in an airplane crash on agricultural land where the airport is now located.  The airport was known as Moisant Field until 1959 when the name was changed to Moisant Int’l. Airport.  Just a few years later, in 1961, the name was changed to New Orleans Int’l.  And in 2001, to honor the 100th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s birth, the name became Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

The trend of new airport junior wings is clearly positive, and we are seeing newly issued airport junior wings every quarter.  In fact, there are now nearly 150 known junior wings issued by airports.  Great news for wing collectors!

Below are some examples of airport junior wings:

  • SBA – Santa Barbara Airport, newly issued
  • DEN – Denver Int’l. Airport, issued in the 90s
  • SAN – San Diego County Airports, issued in 2010s
  • SGF – Springfield, MO, issued in the 80s
  • PHX – Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, issued in the late 70s
  • IND – Indianapolis Airport Authority, issued in the 70s or 80s
  • MSY – New Orleans Int’l Airport, issued in the 70s or 80s
  • TPA – Tampa Int’l. Airport, newly issued
  • PRB – Paso Robles Airport, CA, issued in the 80s (above)

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Junior Wings of Hawaiian Airlines

 


Written by Lane Kranz

 

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On November 11, 1929 Inter-Island Airways’ first scheduled flight took off from Honolulu and in the decades that would follow, one of America’s finest airlines would emerge. Their name was officially changed to Hawaiian Airlines in 1941. Their brand has evolved into perhaps one of the most beautiful logos and incredible aircraft paint schemes in the industry. Sadly, Hawaiian does not currently distribute Junior Wings on their flights. There are 9 different known Junior Wings issued by Hawaiian.

PICTURED: Hawaiian issued 3 different laminated foil junior wings: Junior Pilot, Jr. Stewardess and Jr. Hostess (telling of the era). Figures 4-6: Hawaiian’s oldest known Junior Wings. Figures 7-9: Hawaiian’s last issued junior wings.

 

Hawaiian Airlines 1940

Hawaiian Airlines 1950

           Hawaiian Air 1973

           Hawaiian Airlines Logo 2017

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Junior Wings of jetBlue

Written by Lane Kranz

On February 11, 2000 jetBlue launched their inaugural flight between New York (JFK) and Ft. Lauderdale with a new Airbus A320. Founded by David Neeleman, jetBlue started operations as an all coach airline with every seat equipped with a seatback TV with 24 channels of live TV, a first for the airline industry. jetBlue currently operates a fleet of Airbus A320, A321 and Embraer 190 jets. They have also ordered the Airbus A220 (formerly named C Series). They fly throughout the US, Mexico, Central America, northern South America as well as the Caribbean. Future expansion to western Europe is planned.

jetBlue has issued 8 different Junior Wings. The first 3 wings are very similar, with minor differences in font and letter spacing. The next 5 wings feature a different design on the center.

Junior wing with large, tightly spaced lettering.

Junior wing with wide lettering spaced evenly.

Junior wing with raised lettering.

The remaining 5 wings can easily be identified by their geometric shape:  circles, stripes, grid, dots, and triangles.

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Junior Wings of Panagra ~ Pan American Grace Airways

Written by Lane Kranz


In the late 1920’s Pan American Airways attempted to extend its route network to the western coast of South America.  However, a shipping conglomerate known as the W.R. Grace Company had a near monopoly, albeit by land and sea.  Pan Am knew that it would be extremely difficult to acquire landing rights.  In 1929 a deal was struck and a new company was formed.  Pan American Grace Airways, known as Panagra, was established with Pan American and W.R. Grace each owning 50% of the new airline.


Over the next 38 years, Panagra would grow and connect points from New York to Santiago and Buenos Aires.  They would operate numerous different types of aircraft, including the DC-3, DC-6, DC-7, and DC-8.  In February 1967 the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and President Lyndon Johnson approved a merger between Panagra and Braniff International.  Braniff would operate these South American routes until its bankruptcy in 1982.  The CAB then awarded these routes to Eastern Airlines in a 5-0 decision.  In 1990, Eastern Airlines signed an agreement to sell its Central and Latin American routes to American Airlines, which continues to operate many of these routes today.

Over a period of nearly 4 decades, Panagra issued some of the most beautiful and detailed Junior Wings.  There are 10 different known junior wings, each made of metal, and each wing is considered quite rare and highly collectable.  These wings represent a period of history known for innovation and resilience.  Panagra is a prime example of the power of compromise.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with block lettering.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with green background and script lettering.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with script lettering and no color.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with dark green background and short pin.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with light green background and long pin.

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2017 – 65 Years of Commercial Jet Service

Written by Lane Kranz

Commemorating 65 years of commercial airline service is exciting. We have come a long way. The de Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8 set the stage for the next generation of the airline industry—the jet age. Looking back at the first passenger flight for these impressive aircraft reveals some interesting details.

On May 2, 1952 British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was first to market. On this day, BOAC’s maiden flight started a new era in commercial aviation which would usher in a new, faster way of connecting our world. Interesting to note, however, was the passenger capacity of the Comet. It held between 36 and 44 passengers. By today’s standards, that’s the size of a small regional jet. Also interesting to note was the first route– London to Johannesburg. However, due to range limitations of the Comet, the actual route was London-Rome-Beirut, Khartoum (Sudan)-Entebbe (Uganda)- Livingstone (Zambia) – Johannesburg. Travel time was approximately 24 hours. By today’s standards, the same route is operated nonstop by 3 airlines and takes approximately 11 hours.

These junior wings were issued by BOAC and are representative of the type of wings given to children on early BOAC flights.

Next up, it’s America’s turn. On October 26, 1958, Pan American World Airways inaugurated Boeing 707 service between New York and Paris. Although several years behind the de Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707 was much more refined and technically advanced. Interesting to note was the marketing and celebrations prior to entry. Just 10 days before the inaugural flight, Pan Am had a lavish ceremony at Washington National Airport. Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Juan Trippe christened the “first American built jet airliner” as Jet Clipper America.

This rare formal invitation and picture of the event shows the pride and professionalism of Pan Am as well as the excitement of our nation.

These junior wings were representative of the type given to children aboard Pan Am’s early jet flights.

Junior Clipper Pilot and Stewardess.

Junior Clipper Pilot and Stewardess (note all blue background)

Nearly one year later, Douglas celebrated the entry of service with the Douglas DC-8. Although last to service, the DC-8 would far outlive the Comet and the 707 in commercial airline service. In fact, in 2017 you can still see an occasional cargo version of the DC-8 still flying. The DC-8 entered service on September 18, 1959 with both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Delta was first by a few hours on the Atlanta – New York route.

These wings are representative of the type of junior wings given to children aboard Delta and United’s early DC-8 flights.

Although Delta introduced the widget in 1959, the DC-8 first flight likely carried the older “Flying D” style wings.

 The more updated widget logo later appeared on Jr. Captain and Jr. Stewardess wings.

United’s Future Pilot and Jr. Stewardess wings.

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American Airlines Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

Over the past 80 years, American Airlines has issued nearly two dozen different junior wings. Over the years, the junior wings tell a story. From the proud early years American issued metal wings, followed by plastic wings in the post-deregulation years, followed by no junior wings in the post 9/11 and bankruptcy years, followed by a cookie-cutter junior wing currently in circulation. There have also been some extremely rare and hard-to-find wings issued perhaps by mistake or perhaps in a short-lived trial run. Either way, all of these wings are important to junior wing collectors.

The oldest AA junior wing and one of the rarest wings in the world.

The newest and current issue AA junior wing.

An American junior wing in the shape of a wing (what a great idea!).

The pin-back version of the all-silver, large font AA wing.

The common AA junior wing, followed by a rare ‘mistake wing’ with the red letter on the right, followed by the all-silver version of this wing.

The sticky-back versions of the large font AA wings.

The metal junior stewardess wings in silver and gold.

The metal junior pilot in silver and gold.

The metal AA wing in silver and gold. Interesting to note that these wings were the last of the wings that were issued in both silver and gold. All subsequent wings were silver.

The cloth patch with sticky back version.

The rare Miss Stewardess AA wings in both silver and bronze.

A novelty item and perhaps airline issued AA hat pin.

A novelty item and perhaps cereal box issue, 3 AA plastic pins in blue, green, and brown that includes a fuselage perhaps of a Boeing 707.

A few “new finds” to pass along. Allegiant, Aegean Airlines (Greece), and Alaska Airlines have issued new junior wings. Note the blue and green colors in Alaska’s new wing. Many thanks to Dave Cherkis and Bryan Mellon.

Keep on Collecting!

Lane

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