The First Commercial Flight

There have been countless flights made since the invention of the airplane by the Wright Brothers in 1903. Commercial aviation has a long history as well, longer than many people would believe.

It should come as no surprise that the first commercial flight in history occurred in the United States. In fact, it occurred on January 1, 1914, three years before the United States entered the first World War.

The flight took place between St. Petersburg and Tampa, flying a total of 23 minutes between the two cities separated by 21 miles of bay waters. The plane maintained an altitude of 15 feet across teh open waters of the bay, rather than a high arch like one would see in todays flights. The plane was a Benoist XIV, two seater with a very small flight deck. It was piloted by Tony Jannus, and his one paying passenger.

There was an auction held for the seat on this inaugural flight between the cities, with people bidding large amounts of money for the only seat on the aircraft. The winner was Mr. Abram Pheil, who paid the price of $400, which would be over $5000 in todays currency value. Mr. Pheil was the former mayor of St. Petersburg, and was very eager to take this first flight of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Air Line.

While this flight was a historic event, it wasn't until after the second World War that commercial aviation came down in price. The United States had created manufacturing plants that were capable of making commercial aircraft affordable enough to allow for air travel for everyone. This was a big change from the beginning of the aviation era. With planes being able to be mass produced, more companies could compete with one another for customers and destination cities. Airports began to spring up all over the country, allowing people to go from city to city with more ease than ever before.

All of this was made possibly be that flight in 1914 by Tony Jannus in his Benoist airplane, his passenger by his side. Without that historic flight and the buzz generated by the auction for that seat, the idea of flight as a way to travel might have taken even longer to develop.

Now you know the story of the first commercial flight in world history, and how it changed the world that we live in for the better.

wednesday, july 17. 2024 - (week 29)
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