Early flying boat, early airliner — Benoist XIV “airboat”
Early flying boat, early airliner — Benoist XIV “airboat” walkaround
27° 54′ 43″ N / 82° 41′ 37″ W
Back in the early days of powered flight, less than 10 years after the Wright Brothers historic flight, floatplanes and flying boats were also flying. One of the early designers of flying boats was Tom Benoist who named this type or aircraft as “airboat” — which of course has a different meaning in the modern day.
It was the Benoist XIV which Tony Jannus flew for the first commercial airplane airline operation* between Tampa and St. Petersburg in Florida (in effect a short cut across Tampa Bay). The design has a simple flat hull, biplane wings, a pusher engine and side by side seating. Along with the flying replica on display in the St. Petersburg Museum of History** there is also a beautiful replica suspended in the baggage claim area of the St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport. The photos in this post are of this replica:
The aircraft was built in the days of wood and fabric. Wood was selected by species for weight and strength, laminations were made for structure and the tools were saws, hand planes and chisels — these aircraft were individually made works of art.
But who makes replicas and exacting models of historic aircraft? In this case it was a group of people from the Florida Aviation Historical Society*** with this particular project spearheaded by Mr. Bill Krusen, who also wrote the first person (he flew for historic Panagra and directed its Latin American operations) account entitled Flying the Andes.
*For a post on this historic event please see the post of 1 January 2011 — or type “Benoist” into the search window. If coming from the Seattle PI site this post was not migrated over to the new platform but you can use this page’s search window.
** Posts on this museum can be found by typing “Petersburg” into the search window.
*** My thanks especially to David McLay of the FAHS for this information