Benoist XIV: Another gorgeous day in Tampa Bay.

These little flying boat biplanes were produced by the nowadays little known Benoist company in 1913-14. Designed by Thomas W. Benoist himself, they were conceived from the start to carry passengers. Used initially to give joyrides in Duluth (Minnesota), the first aircraft was wrecked in 1913. Rebuilt and joined by another example, they had the honor of being the flying equipment of the World’s first scheduled airline (heavier-than-air) service between St. Petersburg and Tampa (Florida). Not economically successful, the operation was suspended after only three months. Only these two XIVs were produced.

Magnificent sepia photo of the arrival of the first scheduled flight on January 1, 1914. Waving proudly, pilot Tony Jannus (right) and the only paying passenger former St Petersburg mayor Abram C. Pheil (left); he paid $400 for the privilege.

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