Benoist Model 14


Benoist Model 14 no.43
Tampa, Florida - 1914
Photo: Florida State Archives

Opening Day
St. Petersburg to Tampa Airboat Line
World's 1st Scheduled Airline
Photo: Florida State Archives

Opening Day - L to R:
Percival Elliot Fransler (business manager)
Abram Cump Pheil (first passenger)
and Tony Jannus (Pilot)
Tampa, Florida - January 1, 1914
Photo: Florida State Archives

Abram Pheil's check for his ticket
Note: Dated 1913 by mistake.
Photo: the Pheil Family

Composite Photo
Photo: Florida State Archives

Tampa, Florida - 1914
Photo: Florida State Archives

Tampa, Florida - 1914
Photo: Florida State Archives

Tony Jannus, the Worlds First Airline Pilot
Photo: Florida State Archives

Benoist number 45
Photo: Florida State Archives


The Benoist Airboat was developed by Tom Benoist in 1913. It was constructed of Spruce, fabric and wire by the Benoist factory in St.Louis, MO. A replica of this airplane is on display at the Benoist Pavilion in the St.Petersburg Museum of History, St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Benoist Model 14 is significant because it was used by the first scheduled airline using winged aircraft. The St.Petersburg to Tampa Airboat line with pilot Tony Jannus provided a scheduled Tampa to St.Petersburg service beginning in January 1 of 1914. Former St.Petersburg Mayor Abram C. Pheil purchased (by auction) the honor of being the first airline passenger with a bid of $400. The airline operated 2 Model 14 airboat's and one Model 13 which was to be used for instruction. The last official flight occured on May 5, 1914. The airline offered twice a day, six days a week servic across the bay between St.Petersburg and Tampa. Each flight lasted 22 minutes and the standard fair was $5. The $5 fare allowed the passenger a 200 pound allowance which included any baggage. The airline ceased operation when profits declined after a town subsidy expired and the towns seasonal residents returned north. There were no passenger injuries or deaths.


Empty Weight        1,250 lb
Span                   44 ft
Length 26 ft

Powerplant:             1 Roberts inline 6 (75 hp)

Fuel Consumption:      13 gph
Oil Consumption:        1 gph

Top Speed              64 mph
Stall Speed            31 mph
Range                 175 miles

Retail Price           $4,250

Benoist Model 14 Links

Worlds First Winged Airline (C.V. Glines article)
Aviation History in Tampa Bay - Tampa to St. Petersburg Air Boat Line
The First Scheduled Airline - St. Petersburg to Tampa - 1914
St. Petersburg Museum of History Page - Has the Benoist Model 14 Replica