Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gathering gets preview of Tony Jannus' St. Petersburg to Tampa flight centennial

ST. PETERSBURG — The efficacy of flight was evident Thursday as a news conference about the centennial of the world's first scheduled passenger flight was delayed by a backup on the Howard Frankland Bridge.

The program at the St. Petersburg Museum of History was arranged to announce events to celebrate the Jan. 1, 1914, flight that Tony Jannus made in a Benoist airboat he piloted from St. Petersburg to Tampa and back. But the proceedings were delayed when some of the participants, including invited news media, were delayed on the bridge.

Jannus carried one passenger on the inaugural flight, a former St. Petersburg mayor, Abe Pheil. Plans are being made to re-create the flight two years from now. While organizers haven't decided who will be the passenger, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster drew chuckles when he volunteered his colleague from across the Bay, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, for the ride in what will be a reproduction of the wood and wire-braced plane.

On a more serious note, Chris Steinocher, president and chief executive officer of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, expressed hope that the centennial will be one of those things "that will bind us" together as a region once again.

The Jan. 1, 2014, re-enactment will be done with a reproduction of Jannus' Benoist, now being built at the Fantasy of Flight aviation attraction in Polk City. Kermit Weeks, creator and founder of the facility, brought parts of the plane for show-and-tell. Among them was the 34-inch-long wooden seat that will accommodate pilot and passenger.

"We are actually building an engine from scratch," he said during an interview. "To my knowledge, there are about six of that type of original engine in the world. We found one to borrow."

Star of the morning's event was Michael Norton of Seminole Heights, who portrayed a dashing Jannus, complete with requisite scarf and jacket and gauntlets of leather.

"It's a pleasure to be back in St. Petersburg," he said to those who milled around him. "I'm thrilled to see what you've done with it."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Gathering gets preview of Tony Jannus' St. Petersburg to Tampa flight centennial 06/14/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102