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Tony’s monuments and the world’s first scheduled airline by airplane

1 January 2012

Tony’s monuments and the world’s first scheduled airline by airplane

Tony Jannus was one of the early and brave aviators, in fact he piloted the aircraft for the first airplane based airline (airships had beaten the aircraft for the title of first airline). Although airships were the first airline we all now know that aircraft were to be the future of air travel. The aircraft he flew was then called an “air boat” and is what we now call a flying boat. It was a Benoist design, the Benoist XIV — a flat hull biplane with a single pusher propeller driven by a Roberts in-line six cylinder engine.

Tony Jannus flew this aircraft and a single, at times two, passengers across Tampa Bay as a ferry service between Tampa and St. Petersburg in Florida. A trip that took a day before the airplane now took less than half an hour. The airline was called St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line, its owner Percival Fansler.

There are several posts in this web log on the aircraft and the airline (paste “Benoist” or “Jannus” into the search window to find them) including one about a replica which flew the famous first route in 1984 as well as another faithful replica suspended in the baggage terminal of St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport.

Are there any other remembrances?

Yes, several:

  •  The Tony Jannus Award for outstanding achievements in commercial aviation. It is located at  27º 58′ 51″ N / 82º 32′ 05″ W which is in the Tampa International Airport hall connecting the main terminal with the Tampa Airport Marriott Hotel. There is a post about this award, paste “Jannus” in to the search window and select ENTER to get the link.

The Tony Jannus Award — photo by Joseph May

  •  Jannus Landing in downtown St. Petersburg which is made of gorgeous brick located at 1st Ave. N and 2nd St. S in St. Petersburg FL.
  •  A monument in Tampa on the northeastern corner of Platt St.and Bayshore Blvd.— across from the Publix supermarket, its coordinates are: 27º 56′ 31″ N / 82º 27′ 34″ W

First scheduled commercial airline by airplane monument in Tampa at Platt St. and Bayshore Blvd. — photo by Joseph May

The monument’s plaque — photo by Joseph May

  •  Another monument lies on the south border of Albert-Whitted Airport in Albert-Whitted Park — across from the new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg FL with the coordinates of: 27º 45′ 58″ N / 82º 37′ 47″ W

The plaque commemorating the first scheduled airline flight along the northern boundary of Albert-Whitted Airport in a city park — photo by Joseph May

  •  A third monument lies not far from the one above, it is near the 4th Street Pier, on the south side and also in St. Petersburg at coordinates: 27º 46′ 24″ N / 82º 37′ 42″ W

The east face of the 4th Street Pier monument to the first commercial airline flight which is in St. Petersburg — photo by Joseph May

A closer view of the east facing plaque  — photo by Joseph May

A view of the west facing plaque on the 4th Street Pier monument — photo by Joseph May

The Florida Aviation Historical Society helped sponsor the historic flying re-enactment of the full scale Benoist XIV in 1984 and they have plans for the centennial celebration of the flight called, Flight 2014 — stay tuned!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 January 2012 16:05

    Joe: Outstanding!
    Your splendid reporting and images, and your readers, are helping us “spread the word” about the FLIGHT 2014 project: the Centennial Celebration of The World’s First (heavier-than-air) Airline.
    The alliance of strategic partners, including Florida Aviation Historical Society, St. Petersburg Museum of History, Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society, Fantasy of Flight, Florida Air Museum at Sun ‘n Fun, Tampa Bay History Centre, the Cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa – plus local area airports, colleges and universities, chambers of commerce, EAA chapters, and others are “force-multipliers” to carry our Vision and Mission statements to the general public and the wider world.
    As you know, on January 1st 2014 Kermit Weeks will re-enact pioneer aviator Tony Jannus’ inaugural flight of the 1914 St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line across Tampa Bay, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Kermit’s faithful reproduction of the Benoist Airboat Model 43 is currently under construction at Fantasy of Flight, on Interstate 4 near Polk City.
    We hope to have a Flight 2014 “presence” at area events during the 23-month countdown to the 100th anniversary of The World’s First Airline, and throughout the anniversary year. The FAHS one-third scale static display Benoist model is being made available for display at local venues. This museum-quality publicity and marketing tool complements the Society’s 1984/70th anniversary full-scale replica on permanent display at the Museum in St. Petersburg.
    Additional project goals include the formation of a Florida (Governor’s) Flight 2014 Centennial Commission, to carry our message to Washington and the US Congress; a renewed petition to the US Postal Service for issuance of a Tony Jannus commemorative First Class stamp; and airline/aviation manufacturing industry recognition that Percival Fansler’s scheduled operations did, indeed, represent “The Birth of The Global Airline Industry.”
    Wishing you every success in the New Year and in the years ahead. VR, Mac

    PS JR Hafer’s Aviation History blog is also helping us promote the vision/mission. Still looking for a guardian “pro bono” angel to re-vamp the FAHS website. (The TJDAS website is a good model.)

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      2 January 2012 16:36


      You always have the inside scoop!

      Thanks for giving us a brief as well as news of a good web site.

      Happy New Year and I will be in touch. I must make plans for Flight 2014!

      For those who do not know Kermit Weeks’s reputation — he not only restores and pilots historic aircraft, he flies them in their original designs. It will be interesting to see his Benoist XIV reproduction and in flight 🙂

      Thanks again Mac,


    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      2 January 2012 16:45


      Also, good luck in getting web guru — any volunteers out there?


  2. 2 January 2012 23:19

    EXCELLENT Joe EXCELLENT. We need more of this kind of awesome stuff. Just great Joe. Thanks much.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      3 January 2012 13:03

      Glad I could bring it to you Ron 🙂 I learned about these monuments from a variety of sources and thought it would be nice to see them grouped in a single place. Joe

  3. 3 January 2012 10:16

    The Florida Aviation Historical Society, The Tony Jannus Society and Saint Petersburg, Florida should be proud of being the birthing-room of the very first scheduled commercial airline in the entire world. The focal point of which and the promotion and preservation of such an event is one that should be hailed by the aviation world forever, and for all to remember! Indeed the whole world needs to be aware this historic event and the tireless efforts of many, from the world famous pilot collector Kermit Weeks and his Fantasy of Flight staff including master plane builder Ken Kellet, leading the way for FAHS VP, Captain David “Mac” McLay and Chris Fiore, VP director of events coordinator with Britt Bochiardy all have worked tirelessly to ensure the flight 2014 celebration comes to a successful crescendo after a beautiful symphony leading up to the actual flight itself.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      3 January 2012 13:07

      Nicely said!

      Mac of FAHS recommends your site — I checked it out and can see why, it is energetic and accurate.

      Thanks, too, for the brief on Flight 2014 and those who are behind it. It is a good piece of research I will reiterate in support of Flight 2014 as the event arrives 🙂


    • 3 January 2012 21:18

      I am proud to be a member of the Florida Aviation Historical Society I do wish I could do more however since I have recently retired and am on a fixed income the lack of closeness to the meetings has become difficult for my attendance and being as active as I would like to be. But let it be known if the Board calls upon me for anything within my area, I will gladly step up to the plate without hestitation.
      Flight 2014 is coming over the horizon and soon it will be in sight, There is only one more January 1st before the actual roaring of the Roberts engine in the Benoist flying boat replica built and piloted by Kermit Weeks skimming across the clear, smooth, cold waters of Tampa bay to the waiting thousands of people and the news media on the shores cheering and shouting as they actually did in 1914…
      You can bet I’ll be there and I shall help our organization celebrate the hundred year birthday of a sugnificant event in history, “We were there” memories will be made.
      That doesn’t happen often… JR Hafer

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        4 January 2012 20:02

        Nicely said 🙂

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