Airline Expansion and Innovation(1927 - 1941)

The World's First Scheduled Airline

St Petersburg-Tampa Map
National Air and Space Museum

The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line began flying across Tampa Bay on January 1, 1914. It lasted only three months.


The flight covered 29 kilometers (18 miles) and took 23 minutes-11 hours less than traveling between St. Petersburg and Tampa by rail.


The Airboat Line safely transported 1,204 passengers across the bay. But without a continuing subsidy from St. Petersburg or steady income from tourist traffic, it could not survive. The airline closed at the end of March.

St Petersburg-Tampa Flyer
National Air and Space Museum Archives
Benoist XIV
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Former St. Petersburg Mayor A. C. Phiel (center) paid $400 for the honor of being the first passenger on the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. Pilot Tony Jannus is on the right; the airline's organizer, Paul E. Fansler, on the left.

Benoist Airboat over Tampa Bay
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Benoist XIV

For its St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, St. Petersburg purchased a Model XIV from St. Louis aircraft manufacturer Thomas Benoist. The airplane could carry one passenger, who sat next to the pilot in the open cockpit. The Benoist was powered by a Roberts 75-horsepower, 6-cylinder, water-cooled engine.