First Commercial Airline

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.

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