junior wings,Sun Country

Junior Wings of Sun Country Airlines

By Lane Kranz

Sun Country began operations in January 1983 as a charter airline with a single 727-200. Its inaugral flight was Sioux Falls, SD to Las Vegas, NV. Many of the employees were former Braniff employees which shutdown in 1982. Sun Country expanded its charter business with additional 727s and added DC-10s in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, Sun Country was the third-largest charter airline in the US.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Sun Country shut down and filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. The airline re-emerged and began scheduled operations. Ownership would change hands numerous times and included an FBI investigation for financial fraud. Their business model evolved into a ULCC model and remains heavily leisure-focused. In 2020, the airline operated its first all-cargo flight for Amazon under the Prime Air banner. Today, the airline operates scheduled, charter, and cargo services. According to the airline’s website, they operate only 737 jets:  34 passenger aircraft and 12 freighters.

Sun Country Airlines B727-227, N275AF
Seen at LAX International Airport on 10 Dec 1985
Wearing the original Sun Country colors and logo.
Photo Courtesy of Derek Heley
Sun Country Airlines B727-227, N275AF
LAX International Airport, December 10, 1985, wearing the original Sun Country colors and logo.
Photo Courtesy of Derek Heley
Sun Country Airlines DC10-40, N144JC
Seen at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
October 1988
Photo Courtesy of  Richard Vandervord
Sun Country Airlines DC10-40, N144JC
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, October 1988
Photo Courtesy of Richard Vandervord
Sun Country Boeing 727-259, N289SC
Seen landing at Las Vegas, MCarren International Airport
October 2001
Gary C. Orlando Photo
Sun Country Boeing 727-259, N289SC
Landing at Las Vegas, MCarren International Airport
October 2001
Gary C. Orlando Photo

Photos: Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country has issued 5 different junior wings:

The original 1983 junior wing
The original 1983 junior wing.
The stylized logo early 1990s
The stylized logo early 1990s.
Name banner added, late 1990s
Name banner added, late 1990s.
Medium blue and all-caps late 2000s
Medium blue and all-caps late 2000s.
Dark blue and all-lower case 2010s reflects new/current livery
Dark blue and all-lower case 2010s reflects new/current livery.

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Frontier Airlines,junior wings,Midwest Airlines,Midwest Express,Republic Airways,YX

Junior Wings of Midwest Express

By Lane Kranz

Midwest Express started operations on June 11, 1984, with three DC-9-10s.  The airline later added DC-9-30s and MD-80s.  In 2002, the airline simplified its name to Midwest Airlines and 717s replaced older generation aircraft.  The airline was known for quality service, 2×2 leather seating, and warm chocolate chip cookies.  Financial troubles began post-9/11 and a series of ownership changes occurred.  Midwest Airlines flew its final flight in 2010 as it was absorbed into Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways Holdings.  Its YX code is still used by Republic Airways.

Pictured Above:  (Left) Midwest Express first junior wing with block lettering.  (Center) Midwest Express second issue junior wing with script lettering.  (Right) Midwest Airlines final junior wing reflecting the name change and new corporate logo.

All aircraft pictures courtesy of Joe Hamilton collection.

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Wien Air Alaska Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz



Wien Air Alaska was known as the first airline in Alaska and one of the first airlines in the United States.  Wien was formed in 1924.  Northern Air Transport of Nome merged with Wien in 1936.  In 1968 Wien merged with Northern Consolidated Airlines (NCA) and became known as Wien Consolidated Airlines until 1973 when the company name was changed to Wien Air Alaska.

The company pioneered jet service to gravel runways, and helped develop the Boeing 737-200 Combi aircraft configuration which allowed mixed freight and passenger loads on the main deck of the aircraft. By the spring of 1984, the Wien route network extended from Point Barrow in northern Alaska to dozens of Alaskan communities as well as to cities in the lower 48 states in the western U.S. including, Albuquerque and Phoenix.   Wien ceased operations on November 23, 1984.

Wien issued 3 known Junior Wings.  Pictured above Junior Pilot and Junior Stewardess wings, believed to be from the era 1955-1979.  The lower wing was used from 1980-1984.

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Collector Alert – Fake Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

With the popularity of online shopping we have seen a rise in fake merchandise on websites such as eBay.  Unfortunately, our little collectors’ niche is not immune to this trend.  I recently saw a few of these wings sold on eBay for very high prices and was very upset.  I wanted to share the 4 known Fake Junior Wings with you in hopes of preventing these wings from ending up in your collections.

As of this writing, there are 4 known Fake Junior Wings:  Virgin Atlantic, TACA, Rich International and Falcon Air Express.  Each of these wings appears to be a junior wing from another airline that has a laser printed logo placed in the center with a clear epoxy resin applied over the top.  Buyer beware—these are fakes.   Thanks for reading and for collecting real junior wings!

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New Junior Wings in 2020

Written by Lane Kranz

Despite the ongoing pandemic and resulting crisis on the travel industry, several new Junior Wings have appeared in 2020.  Each of these are airline issued and will make beautiful additions to your collections.

This is the current issue American Airlines junior wing. 

This is believed to be a prototype wing in full color made for American, frequently seen on eBay.

Top – This is the new Delta Air Lines Flight Attendant junior wing. This wing is gold and replaces the silver junior wing.
Bottom – This is the current Delta Airlines Pilot junior wing (not new) shown due to similarity to the new Flight Attendant junior wing.

Alaska Airlines has issued a new Junior Wing. This wing is nearly identical to the previous issue, except for the unique back. It uses a magnet instead of a pin to attach to clothing. Many thanks to fellow collector Bryan Mellon for identifying this new wing!

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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.


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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