Historic Markers Across Florida

World's First Regularly Scheduled Commercial Airline

Marker ID: FLHM F-274
Location: on grounds of Albert Whitted Municipal Airport,
County: Pinellas
Coordinates: N 27° 45.965    W 082° 37.784
  27.76608333    -82.62973333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM404Z


Within a decade after the famous Wright Brothers´ 1903 flight, aviation history was being made in Florida. The first transcontinental flight landed at Jacksonville in 1912, a naval air training center opened at Pensacola in 1913, and the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, the world´s first regularly scheduled commercial airline, began service in 1914. Tom Benoist, a pioneer airboat (seaplane) manufacturer from St. Louis, started this cargo and passenger airline as well as a flying school on Tampa Bay. Backed by members of the St. Petersburg Board of Trade, he built hangars on the north edge of the yacht basin. Anthony "Tony" Jannus, Benoist´s head pilot, took the airline´s first passenger, former mayor A. C. Pheil, across the bay in a biplane on January 1, 1914. Pheil´s high bid of $400 at an auction held before the flight brought him this honor. The twenty mile maiden flight of the new service took twenty-three minutes to complete. A few days later, a light cargo was for the first time flown across the bay. The activities of this airline demonstrated that air travel was practical although services were discontinued after only a few months due to financial and technical difficulties.

Sponsors: sponsored by the St. Petersburg Arts Commission in cooperation with Department of State


City: St. Petersburg, FL