ST. PETERSBURG — The city's aviation history was on display Wednesday during a news conference at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
In addition to announcing the recipient of one of the area's most distinguished awards, the meeting also set in motion plans for a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight.
Frederico Curado, president and CEO of Embraer South America, was named the recipient of the 2012 Tony Jannus Award.
Embraer is one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial jets and has its headquarters at São José dos Campos, Brazil, southwest of Rio De Janeiro.
The company employs 18,000 worldwide, with offices in China, France, Portugal, Singapore and the United States.
A prelude to Wednesday's announcement was the launch of the Tony Jannus stamp campaign. The effort coincides with the upcoming 100th anniversary of Jannus' flight.
Jannus piloted the first commercial airline flight, taking off in St. Petersburg and landing in Tampa on New Year's Day 1914. Jannus charged $5 for a one-way fare on his single-engine "flying boat." The 21-mile trip took 23 minutes.
"Tony Jannus was the Babe Ruth of aviation," said Frank Robertson, co-chair of the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society. "If you talk to young people today, they all know about Jannus Landing, but few can tell you how it got its name."
The group is petitioning the U.S. Postal Service for special recognition for Jannus and the first commercial flight.
In addition to the stamp campaign, the group is also launching a speakers bureau, which offers presentations to local groups and schools in an effort to improve community knowledge of Jannus' contributions to aviation.
Mayor Bill Foster touted the merits of the award and the stamp campaign. "I am proud to be in the home of the birthplace of aviation," he said.
Foster added that he and other officials are working on a coordinated plan for a yearlong celebration, which kicks off in 2013 that will "attract local, state and national aviation professionals because of the significance" of the anniversary.
Past winners of the Tony Jannus award make up a who's who of aviation.
In recent years, the award has to gone to leaders from FedEx, Continental, AirTran, Southwest and JetBlue. U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar of Minnesota won the award, as did Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways. Other winners include Medal of Honor recipient Jimmy Doolittle and Chuck Yeager, an Air Force general and renowned test pilot.
The award ceremony will be held Nov. 29 at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.