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Fri, Dec 27, 2013

Team Hopes To Fly Benoist Seaplane Reproduction January 1

Aircraft Is Credited With Being The First To Fly Scheduled Air Service

It is said that the modern airline was born in Florida on January 1, 1914, when a company called the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line flying a Benoist XIV seaplane flew one passenger at a time between the two cities for five dollars each way. It was the first scheduled passenger service. On January 1st 2014, a team from the central Florida aviation attraction Fantasy of Flight hopes to recreate those flights on the first flight's 100th anniversary.

Fantasy of Flight founder Kermit Weeks is leading the team working to produce a replica of the Benoist. Tampa television station WFTS reports that Weeks has spent nearly $300,000 on the reproduction airplane, and they hope to have it completed for test flights this week. The team has been working 12 hour days this holiday week in an effort to get the airplane ready for its January 1 flight.

Weeks told the station that the last three months have been "frantic" and that they are "right down to the wire." But "this thing is going to fly," he said.

The team has reportedly still not gotten an airworthiness certificate from the FAA for the reproduction seaplane, which is required even though the entire flight will be over water. If all goes according to plan, the 30 minute flight will depart from the water near the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and arrive about 30 minutes later near Peter O. Knight airport.

(Benoist XIV flying near Tampa. Image from file)

FMI: www.fantasyofflight.com/aircraft/early-flight/1913-benoist-xiv/

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