World Airways MD-11ER N277WA Gemini Jets GJWOA152 2000

I found this in a charity shop in Bristol for £4.99. I love it when a real bargain just appears out of nowhere! And still waiting for this months Gemini’s and Phoenix to arrive!!

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World Airways had a long and distinguished history, founded in Peachtree City, Atlanta back in 1948 by a chap called Benjamin Pepper. As with so many airlines during the Cold War and subsequent conflicts, much of its income was derived from DoD contracts. Indeed it’s yet another company who’s over-reliance on those, like Evergreen International, came to signal its demise in 2014.

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Back in 2009, still looking good and fully operational.

There is remarkable film of a World Airways 707 (even though it’s referred to as “a jumbo jet”), fleeing down the runway at Da Nang in Vietnam in 1975, as hundreds of people rushed it to get out on the last flight. The tail door is still open and the aircraft barely made it, with people hanging out of the cargo doors and wheel arches, bullets had cut fuel lines. You can see it on this link:

The Last Flight From Da Nang – World Airways

Forty years later Vietnam are flying Boeing’s Dreamliners. There is positive change in the world after all.

World Airways was the original launch customer for the first 747F  and during the 1980’s and 1990’s ventured somewhat unsuccessfully into passenger services, though eventually these and their aircraft ended up as troop transports to the Middle East, both for Iraq-1, and then Iraq-2 and Afghanistan.

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November 2013, de-registered and used for spares.

As the world entered the dark days of the recession in 2007-8-9, World was bought out and incorporated ino ATA becoming becoming a brand of Global Aero Logistics, re-based out of Peachtree administratively, although most of its life World operated out of Oakland CA. With the global air cargo collapse, the loss of military contracts, World was finally wound up and ceased operations on March 27th 2014. It’s parent filed for Chapter 11 in July 2012 and again in 2013 (as Global Aviation Holdings Inc), finally being sold off for a pittance to Omni Air on May 28th 2014 and its remaining assests sold to pay creditors.

At the end World ran 3 MD-11ER, 4 MD-11F and 2 744BDSF’s.

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This aircraft, N277WA was built on spec, in the expectations of finding a buyer (not then uncommon when production lines needed filling), and World Airways leased her from MD Finance. Built in 1995 she suffered technical issues and was only delievered on 19th March 1996. World also leased her out to PAL for a year in 96-97, VASP in June 98 and Monarch Airlines had her for three months in August-November 98. She even served with Garuda for a year in 2000-2001. Her last flight was 27 April 2012, to Goodyear Phoenix in Arizona where Unical Aviation have now broken her up.

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Last Image of her from Google Earth dated March 2014, in subsequent photos she’s completely gone. The aircraft in the same spot now, ironically enough is G-VFAB. Other interesting aircraft were XA-MAT former AeroMexico 763W (A Gemini model I still use) and World Cargo MD-11F’s, Iberia A343’s and Hainan A346’s.

1)Fuselage

The passenger versions didn’t operate in the Wolrd Cargo livery, remaining plain white with a grey under belly. This is one of Gemini’s oldest models, dating back to year 2000 and has the orginal type of mould, with the tail section having a seperate piece at the base to hold in the horizontal stabilisers.

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It’s all perfectly in keeping with the period, with 2500 units being made. It would be interesting to know how many still lurked in collectons around the world. You have to admire the detail, which while obviously minimal, bearing in mind the nature of the aircraft, is all beautifully done. Another reason to wish for the days of truly limited quality production, however unrealistic a wish that might be.

The only detrimental is the escape slide detail around the bottom of the doors is missing.

2)Wings and landing gear

Cradle system wings, but they all fit beautifully. Almost no detail underneath though.  The upper surfaces are perfectly good and look spot on.

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I admit I took the stand and hole out. the Gemini logo in those days was really small.

Landing gear; tyres on spigots, but they look better than they sound and the tyres are perfect, vastly better that the leaching chemical, lumpy stuff we get fobed off with so often now. Only one side rolls though!

3)Engines

Now here we have concrete proof that back in 2000 they knew how to apply and use silver paint. So what’s happened since? The wing mounted Pratt & Witney 4482’s are excellent, but there is no fan in the deeply recessed centre engine.

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4)Nose detail

The flight deck is superb, but there is little other detail, and it’s hard to see any of it on the real thing.

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5)Tail detail

The only real colour is the US flag on the tail top. It’s all beautifully done and neat, even with the spilt base of ye olden days!

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6)Colours

White, pale grey and black. Not really a challenge.

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7)Score and conclusions.

I don’t score models this old. If I did I’d giver her up in the 90th percentile, simply because it’s that well made.

What I am wondering is what to do with her. I’ve been considering using it as a private jet for the mythical owner of RLSI – Sir Jetson Boy. It’s clean and at the same time modern while being almost an anachronism. Sounds just the sort of aircraft one of my book characters would fly about in.

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