The world’s first commercial airline

On Jan. 1, 1914, the world’s first scheduled passenger airline service took off from St. Petersburg, FL and landed at its destination in Tampa, FL, about 17 miles (27 kilometers) away. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line was a short-lived endeavor — only four months — but it paved the way for today’s daily transcontinental flights.

The first flight’s pilot was Tony Jannus, an experienced test pilot and barnstormer, according to the International Air Transport Association. The first paying passenger was Abram C. Pheil, former mayor of St. Petersburg. Their short flight across the bay to Tampa took 23 minutes. They flew in a “flying boat” designed by Thomas Benoist, an aviation entrepreneur from St. Louis, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Launching the first commercial airline