The Flight 2014 First Airline Centennial organizing board is announcing its plans to celebrate the world’s first scheduled passenger airline flight. A series of events will lead up to the commemorative date and cover a year’s worth of activities. The details of this series of events will be revealed under a life-sized model of the Benoist Air Boat on Thursday, June 14 at 11 a.m. at The St. Petersburg Museum of History.
The newly formed group includes representatives from The Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, the Florida Aviation Historical Society, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Planned activities range from educational programs to the actual reenactment of the original flight on January 1, 2014. Additionally, galas are scheduled to include all who would like to help celebrate this momentous event in world history. The mayor of St. Petersburg, Bill Foster, and the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Centennial. Mayor Foster will attend the Kick Off press conference along with representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Fantasy of Flight, Florida Aviation Historical Society, St. Petersburg Museum of History, Sun n Fun, and theTony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society.
“This event marks a truly important moment in the history of St. Petersburg, Tampa and the world” said Will Michaels, President of the Flight 2014 organizing board in a news release. Michaels also serves as Co-Chair of the Tony Jannus Society and is responsible for launching a drive to obtain a new postage stamp commemorating the centennial of the first airline and its heroic pilot Tony Jannus.
The date of the original flight was January 1, 1914. The flight departed from a location near the St. Petersburg Municipal Pier and flew to Tampa. Tony Jannus piloted the twenty-three minute inaugural flight of the pioneer airline's Benoist XIV flying boat biplane. A crowd of 3,000 gathered at the pier to watch former St. Petersburg mayor Abram C. Pheil become the first passenger on the inaugural flight. Mayor Pheil paid a fare of five dollars.