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Tony Jannus and the 99th Anniversary of the First Scheduled Airline Flight Using Airplanes

31 December 2012

Tony Jannus and the 99th Anniversary of the First Scheduled Airline Flight Using Airplanes

Tomorrow marks the 99th anniversary of Tony Jannus flying a paying passenger across Tampa Bay and into the history books. That flight, a hop from St. Petersburg to Tampa, was the inaugural flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Boat Line. Although scheduled air service existed before it was with airships which proved ultimately unsuitable as history progressed — so, 1 January 1914 is considered the first scheduled airline flight by most.

Percy Fansler had the entrepreneurial idea to begin a regular flying service to ferry passengers to and from between Tampa and St. Petersburg FL. He hired a daring pilot in Tony Jannus, as well. Together they flew one and, at times, two passengers per flight skimming the wave tops taking less than an hour — as opposed to the several hours by train.

The Florida Historical Aviation Society especially serves to recall this event and what it brought the world. The coming centennial celebration has plans for Flight 2014 with a full scale replica of the Benoist XIV Air Boat (flying boat) being flown on that historic route among many other activities.

The images, below, are from the State of Florida Archives and through them we can feel how it was back then, in the day when the world was changing so quickly as well as relentlessly. Additional images of replicas and memorials can be seen by pasting “Benoist” into the search window and selecting ENTER.

1014, pilot Tony Jannus in the cockpit of a Benoist XIV air boat (known today as a flying boat) — State Archives of Florida photo

1914, pilot Tony Jannus in the cockpit of a Benoist XIV “air boat” (known today as a “flying boat”) — State Archives of Florida photo

Tony Jannus with the Benoist XIV under taxi — State Archives of Florida photo

Tony Jannus with the Benoist XIV under taxi (likely McKay Bay in Tampa FL) — State Archives of Florida photo

Tony Jannus (right) and paying passenger — State Archives of Florida photo

Tony Jannus (right) and paying passenger — State Archives of Florida photo

First regularly scheduled airline flight 1914 Percy E Fansler left Mayor Phiel and Tony Jannus — State Archives of Florida photo

First regularly scheduled airline flight 1914 Percy E Fansler left Mayor Phiel and Tony Jannus — State Archives of Florida photo

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 31 December 2012 04:04

    Many thanks for calling attention to this historic anniversary, Joe. Wishing you and yours “All the Best” in the New Year! (The FAHS website re-design/upgrade is still a work in progress…)

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      31 December 2012 13:56

      Thank you Mac and Happy New Year to you and yours as well :)

      Glad to hear FAHS is improving — a great organization it is.

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