Monday, January 27, 2014

The birth of Commercial Aviation

One hundred years ago this month Floridian Percival Elliot Fanvil, having read about the safety of airplanes which took off and landed on water decided the time was right for commercial passenger air service "starting somewhere and going somewhere else".

Unimaginable today, a century ago the 20 mile trip from Tampa to St. Petersburg, Florida was a slog whether by steamship, train, by car or on foot.  Fanvil saw his chance, created the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, with scheduled half hour flights twice each way, per day at $5 a ride, one passenger per turn.

Former Tampa mayor Abram Pheil bought the first ticket at auction for $400.  Unsurprisingly, the first airline lost money and closed after 4 months.



Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I've not researched it, but having lived in Tampa Bay since 1962, we have always been told that that first commercial flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa was piloted bay chap named Tony Janus.

Several weeks ago, that flight was reenacted here. A fellow built a replica of the aircraft and successfully made the trip.

Toad said...

Indeed it was Tony Jannus. A most interesting chap

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