Fans of Fantasy of Flight and it’s creator Kermit, have been following along for quite some time now, the progress of our Benoist project.  It’s no secret that on January 1st 2014, Kermit will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of The United States’ first commercial flight in quite a special way; by flying a masterfully put together reproduction of a 1913 Benoist XIV flying boat from Tampa to St. Pete!

Tony Jannus Award Plaque

The Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society held a banquet and honored Kermit this month, with a special award for his dedication and contributions to recreate aviation history in such an outstanding way.  Kermit and the aircraft team have been building the Benoist here at Fantasy of Flight, and Kermit can’t wait to have the honor of flying it and recreating that groundbreaking historical flight.

This was only the fourth time in this Society’s 50 years of existence that a presentation as special as this one has been made.  Kermit was able to share in this honor with our distinguished aircraft team and recognized each of them for their contributions to this history making project.  Keep following our progress here or visit us at Fantasy of Flight to see us in action.

Posted by on Friday, December 6, 2013
Filed in: Benoist 2014, Roberts Engine
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A Visit to Ohio

This week, Kermit and Andy headed up to Ohio to the engine shop to check out the first Roberts engine’s running characteristics and to pack up the components for the flight engine they’ll be assembling in Florida soon. The engine is a wicked-loud beast that rivals any dragster engine you’ve ever heard. Just check out this clip of her on the test stand. The train whistle signals the rest of the plant that the engine is about to be started so as not to startle anyone doing delicate work. You can hear why when she starts up!

Here are a few shots of the engine after test and tear down. No metallic debris was found on inspection, so things look good so far! Not much time left though…

E) Torn apart!

F) Cylinders

G) Pistons

H) Hardware

I) Crank and Case

 

Posted by on Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Filed in: Benoist 2014, Fantasy of Flight
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Hitting the Homestretch

As the holidays approach, the countdown to our New Year’s Day flight recreating the first commercial airline flight on 1/1/1914 is becoming almost audible. The entire Aircraft Department at Fantasy of Flight is working hard on making sure we have an accurate AND airworthy craft! The engine continues testing up in Ohio, the last coats of dope are covering the fabric on the wings and control surfaces, and soon it will be time to rig it up and test fly it!

If you would like to see details of the building process, Kermit is producing near-daily updates on his Facebook page so you can follow along.

For a quick summary of our progress to date, check out the video:

So will you be joining us for this historic flight from St. Petersburg, FL to Tampa, FL?!

Posted by on Thursday, November 7, 2013
Filed in: Benoist 2014, Roberts Engine
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Rounding the Last Turn?

Progress is happening fast now, with the whole Aircraft Department pitching in. Plus, our engine-making friends in Ohio have hit a major milestone by starting up the engine for the first time! Here’s a video of big moment… this is a sound that no one has heard for decades!
 

That massive engine tops 478 cubic inches, weighs nearly 300 pounds, and produces a whopping… 75 horsepower. Yes, apparently technology marched on and left the poor Roberts Engine behind. For a modern comparison, the 2013 Corvette Z06 has a 400-pound, 427ci engine that produces over 500hp! But hey, in 1914, this was the cutting edge.

Keep in mind this engine was built from scratch! Casting, milling… we had no existing engine, only a 4-cylinder reference model. Steve Littin and his team really produced a work of art! Have a look:

a1) Roberts

 

b1)

 

c1)

 

d1)

 

e1)

Here’s a short time lapse video of our Aircraft Department removing wing panels from the Benoist reproduction. The wings still need to be prepped, covered with fabric and then doped.

Tick Tick Tick Tick

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