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.
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.
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