FIRST SCHEDULED AIRLINE
TONY JANNUS IN A BENOIST SEAPLANE, 1914
|Tony Jannus, right, poses in 1914 with prominent citizen George Gandy
in first commercial passenger plane.
ST. PETERSBURG - (UPI) - A designer of experimental aircraft will climb aboard a replica of a biwing Benoist seaplane today and attempt to retrace the flight of Tony Jannus on the 70th anniversary of the start of the commercial airline industry.
The Florida Historical Aviation Society has spent four years building a hand-fashioned replica of the old mahogany-hulled airboat Jannus flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa on New Year's Day 1914.
Ed Hoffman, a Tarpon Springs pilot, will take off at 10 a.m. from the Coast Guard ramp adjacent to Albert Whitted Airport. If all goes well, Hoffman will follow the 21-mile route Jannus took across Tampa Bay. He will land at the Davis Islands Seaplane Basin adjacent to Peter O. Knight Airport about 10:30 a.m.
Hoffman has already made brief test flights in the fragile wood and fabric seaplane.On his first test flight in November, Hoffman guided the plane across Lake Tarpon and its 45-foot wingspan lifted it into the air. Hoffman leveled the wings at 15 feet altitude, the height Jannus flew on his trips across the bay, then began a series of turns and dips, testing the controls.
"That plane will fly to Tampa and back with no trouble at all," said Joe Walker, as he circled his motorboat under the thundering plane. After a four-minute flight, Hoffman cut back on the throttle and the hull settled on the water.
Moments after landing, the chain-driven eight-foot propeller mounted at the rear of the plane stopped. The chain had broken. But that caused no concern because the plane Jannus flew also had problems with the chain.
The New Year's Day flight by Jannus in 1914 was the first scheduled airline flight with a passenger and started him on a career of ferrying paying passengers across the bay.
Hoffman's attempt to re-enact the flight is the second time an attempt has been made. Another replica was built with hopes of flying the route in January 1964, on the 50th anniversary of the flight, but the pilot could not get the craft airborne. It later was flown successfully on very short flights later in the year, but never over Jannus' route.
|Mrs. A. L. Whitney, First Woman To Fly on a Scheduled Airline, 1914.|
Mrs. L. A. Whitney, wife of the Secretary of Commerce of St. Petersburg, Florida, has the distinction of being the first female passenger on a regularly scheduled airline. Mrs. Whitney flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa on January 8, 1914. Her flight was not without incident --- Jannus was forced to land the aircraft on Tampa Bay some distance from land because of engine trouble, but he soon repaired it and successfully completed the flight.
President John F. Kennedy participated in commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jannus' flight in Tampa Nov. 18, 1963, four days before the President was assassinated in Dallas.
In January 1964, the Tampa Chamber of Commerce began an annual presentation of a Tony Jannus Award to a person who is recognized for his contributions to the scheduled airline industry.
The first award went to Sen. Mike Monroney (D., Okla.).
by Claudia M. Oakes
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION PRESS