Fly the Branded Skies

If you had wings

When I was a kid, we’d always have to get to the airport early on family vacations so I could visit all the various airline check-in counters and get some loot. In those days, every counter at least offered timetables and luggage tags, and most offered much more. The best ones had junior wings.

There are apparently more than 900 different kinds of junior wings out there. As a kid, visiting the check-in counters, I managed to collect ten of them: Air Canada, America West, American, Continental, Delta, Lufthansa, Northwest, SAS, Time Air, and United. Not bad for a 10-year-old.

Years passed. I found a set of Pan Am wings at a gift shop once, but otherwise, that was the end of my collection of wings. Until I realized something that 10-year-old Cameron would never have imagined:

You can find wings on eBay.

On March 31, 2010, I received my first new wings in almost a decade: National Airlines. They’re still my favourite. But as of today, my collection stands at 143 different wings from six continents. And as of today, they’re all online. You can browse them here.

All of these wings were free giveaways to young flyers. I have accidentally collected a couple real pilot wings as well—but I find these less interesting. To me, real wings are part of a uniform. They represent pilots and flight attendants. The junior wings, however, are advertising; they represent airlines. And unlike other airline collectibles, wings are uniquely symbolic of the airline industry.

It’s an esoteric collection—a very esoteric collection—but I hope you find it interesting. And if you happen to have some rare wings buried in a drawer somewhere… well, let me know!

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge a Web site run by Stan Baumwald,, which is an invaluable resource… at least, if you’re one of the few people interested in such things. Mr. Baumwald has pledged his extensive collection to the United States Airline Museum, if it should ever be built. I for one hope it will be, if only to someday see these wings with my own eyes.