On January 1, 1914, a pilot named Tony Jannus made what is generally recognized as the world's first scheduled airline flight from St. Petersburg across Tampa Bay to the city of Tampa in a Benoist Type XIV flying boat or "airboat" as it was called then. The anniversary of the flight has been celebrated in St. Petersburg and Tampa for many years and various aircraft have been used to commemorate the original flight. A few years ago, however, the Florida Aviation Historical Society undertook the construction of an accurate replica of the Benoist, with a target date of January 1, 1984 for completion -- the 75th anniversary of Jannus' 1914 adventure.
As might be expected, a number of EAAers have been involved in the project, and the aircraft, itself, has been on display at Sun 'N Fun for the past two years. It is powered by a Chevy "Stovebolt Six" driving a huge shaft-mounted prop by means of a heavy duty chain.
A gala celebration has been planned for January 1, 1984 at the Albert Whitted airport in downtown St. Petersburg. A cocktail party, banquet and dance will be held at the airp[ort on New Year's Eve, with a pancake breakfast set for the next morning. The commemorative flight is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EAAers are invited to participate in all the activities.
EAA -- The Sport Aviation Association may be contacted at:
P.O. Box 3086
Oshkosh, WI 54903-3096