On January 1, 1914, the first scheduled passenger flight took place, which operated between St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida. The St. Petersburg-Tampa airline was short-lived because it only lasted four months. But it was she who laid the foundation for today’s intercontinental flights.
The first flight was made by pilot Tony Jannus, an experienced pilot from that time. Also, the first passenger to make a paid flight was Abram C. Pheil, a former mayor of St. Petersburg.
The first passenger flight in the world took place along the Gulf of Tampa for 21 miles (about 34 miles) and lasted 23 minutes.
Then the press wrote that they flew in a “flying boat” designed by Thomas Benoist, an aviation contractor from St. Louis. In 1913, a journey between these two cities took between 4 hours by boat or 12 hours by train, and by plane the time was reduced to 20 minutes.
Tony Jannus has previously held flight exhibitions, tested military aircraft and performed long-haul flights with aircraft and air boats, as they were called. Also, in 1912 he flew the plane in which Captain Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from an airplane. Thus, until 1913, at just 24 years of age, he became one of the main shareholders of the aeronautical company Benoist.
The plane could reach a maximum speed of 103 km / h. Initially, the plane was built to support a pilot and a passenger, being next to each other on a wooden chair.
The first flight ticket was put up for auction, but about 3000 people watched with interest when it took off.
With this plane over 1200 passengers flew. There were two flights a day, six days a week. The usual rate was $ 5 per person (about $ 100 today). A second Benoist airline was added and flights were extended to Sarasota, Bradenton and Manatee. Tony Jannus’ brother, Roger, was the second pilot.
The company operated for almost a month, but passenger interest declined rapidly as they started to head north. On April 27, Tony and Roger Jannus flew the last flight before leaving Florida, performing an air show over the Tampa Bay.