Thursday, December 20, 2007

Aviation History in Our Home Town

Larry Britner sent along this photo of the Tony Jannus' famous first flight across Tampa Bay, from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Larry writes:
The world's first scheduled passenger airline using an airplane was the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Line (also called the "Airboat Line"). On January 1, 1914, pilot Tony Jannus flew one passenger across Florida's Tampa Bay in a Benoist type XIV flying boat. While it only operated for three or four months, the airline's twice daily roundtrips greatly influenced commercial aviation.

Jannus is remembered in a Tony Jannus Day celebration, sponsored by Albert Whitted Airport. At a special luncheon, a person receives the annual Tony Jannus award for contributions to aviation. You can see a model of Jannus' plane in the St. Petersburg Historical Museum.
Vose Pneuman writes that sometimes he thinks he may have flown in Tony's aircraft across Tampa Bay in 1914.."or was it waterskiing or maybe it was fishing at Jannus Landing.
(Editor's Note: Technically, that may have been fishing at Demens Landing, once called the South Mole. In the "segregation days" we grew up in, South Mole was also the location of the swimming beach for African-Americans. )
As Larry Britner remembers South Mole, "it was not unlike a vacant lot with a few city storage sheds and stacks of pilings that just happened to stick in the water, with a concrete dockside facing south used almost exclusively for the city-operated tug boat/barge used in dock repair.

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