After spending several months concentrating on the airlines of the British Isles, I think we need to get some warmth into our bones with a quick visit to Central America. I might regret this decision because with September temperatures in the nineties and “feel like” temperatures in the hundreds here in Florida we might long for the north again.
I have a few insignia from that part of the world in my collection, but one of the carriers with the most extensive route structures and most colorful insignia is TACA. In the 1930s, TACA (Transportes Aereos Centro-Americanos) was founded by Lowell Yerex. It was started as a cargo carrier and eventually operated flights ranging from Miami in the north to Rio de Janeiro in the south. Most of these services were short-haul, but the presence of TACA touched just about all the countries of Central America, As air commerce developed in Central America, competition arose between TACA and carriers affiliated with Juan Trippe’s Pan American World Airways (PAA). TACA was based in El Salvador and maintains its headquarters there today. Over the years, its fortunes waxed and waned as it formed companies such as TACA of Venezuela, TACA Brasil, TACA de Costa Rica, and TACA de Nicaragua. Pan American-backed companies operated in Honduras (SAHSA), Nicaragua (LANICA), and Costa Rica (LACSA). The backing offered by PAA and TACA generally was about forty percent of the local carriers’ budgets. By the late 1940s the larger carriers had withdrawn their backing of the smaller companies.
Panama wasserved by Aerovias Panama and later Air Panama. Air Panama was backed by Spain’s Iberia and the earlier Aerovias Panama had been aided in operating to the USA by Trans Caribbean Airways.
There were a few independent airlines operating in Central America as well. One of those was Aviateca (Compania Guatamalteca de Aviacion, S.A.) of Guatamala.
I have some photos of one of this company’s Convair 440s taken by my father when he flew from Belize International Airport to Tikal to view the Mayan ruins. He had been serving as a ship’s medical officer after having retired from private practice in New York.
So, here are some Central American airline insignia to check over. All are in my collection, with the exception of TACA Venezuela and Aerovias Panama. The heraldry of the “parent” companies can be seen in The TACA affiliates’ blue parrot and the Pan American style cap badge seen in companies operating in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and even as far as Afghanistan (Ariana). Hope you enjoy them.
This article is a part of The Captain’s Log, Issue 40-4, Spring 2016
Written by Lane Kranz
To celebrate the Captain’s Log 40th Anniversary we have put together a list of the World’s 40 Rarest Junior Wings. I have collaborated with the world’s greatest junior wing collectors to assemble this list. Many thanks to Dave Cherkis, Bill Gawchik, Jose Gonzales, Cameron Fleming, and Bryan Mellon for sharing wings from their outstanding collections as well as their expertise. Together, the six of us voted on the Top 10 and we present this list to celebrate 40 Years of collecting. Also, a very honorable mention to long time collector, mentor, and friend Stan Baumwald for being the “godfather” of junior wings and his contributions, as well.
Collecting junior wings is certainly a ‘niche’ hobby. WAHS member Bryan Mellon shared his story on how he got started collecting junior wings. In 1980, Bryan was five years old and his family moved to Japan. He flew four different airlines between Richmond and Tokyo. At the end of the trip, he had four different junior wings (Eastern, Delta, Western, and Northwest) and he was hooked on collecting. Today, Bryan is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and he still has those original four wings from his trip.
My experience started in the early 1980s as a young teenager. I started collecting timetables, post cards, junior wings, and just about anything airline related. In 1985 I attended my first Airliner’s International convention in San Jose, California. I was in heaven. These were my kind of people! I was hooked. Over the next few years I began to realize that I needed to narrow my focus to junior wings and timetables. One story comes to mind from my early days as a junior wing collector. I was a college student in 1989 and I didn’t have much money. I ran into Stan Baumwald at an airliner show and he was selling a Texas International junior wing for $40. He told me it was really rare and hard to find, but $40 was just too much for my college student budget. I passed on that one. I spent the next 20 years regretting my decision as that wing is extremely rare and hard to find. I eventually found another one, but it cost me a lot more than forty bucks! I guess they call that perspective. Today, I’m a pilot for Delta Air Lines and collecting junior wings is still one of my greatest passions.
I realize this list is quite subjective and everyone will have their own opinion. However, the purpose of this list is to showcase the best of the best from the world’s greatest junior wing collectors. Here are the 40 Rarest