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.

While we here at Fantasy of Flight toil away on the Benoist reproduction, our friends at Flight 2014, Inc. are busy planning a number of exciting events to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the World’s First Airline. Flight 2014, Inc. is made up of three founding organizations including the Florida Aviation Historical Society, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society. Here is just a small sample of what you can expect:

New Year’s Eve, 12/31/2013
The City of St. Petersburg is dedicating its annual “First Night” Celebration to the First Airline (“First Night, First Flight”). Headquarters for Flight 2014 will be the History Museum on the Waterfront. Balsa wood airboat gliders will be given to the first 500 young people. Kermit Weeks will speak at 8PM. An auction will be held for two round-trip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Stamp Collectors can get a special First Airline cancellation.

New Year’s Day Re-enactment, 01/01/2014
At 10:00 AM, precisely 100 years after Tony Jannus’ historic flight, founder and CEO of Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks, plans to fly his full scale reproduction of the original.

Visit www.airlinecentennial.org for a complete list of events and to learn more about the First Commercial Flight.

“The Airboat Line to Tampa will be only a forerunner of great activity along these lines in the near future…what was impossible yesterday is an accomplishment of today—while tomorrow heralds the unbelievable.”
- Percy Fansler, St. Petersburg – Tampa Airboat Line, 1914

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?!

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

For about a year now I have been working with an archivist I hired to try and organize all the stuff I’ve saved over the years including; pictures, trophies, artifacts, clothing, etc.

One of the great finds were in slides my father had taken when I was a little kid that I had NEVER seen before.  He was an amateur photographer and passed away in 2006.  My mother was always worried about what to do with all the slides that he took . . . about 100,000 of them!

Since I now had an archivist on staff, I stepped up to the plate for the family and brought everything up from Miami to Fantasy of Flight.  My car was totally loaded with every seat packed to the ceiling.

My Suburban loaded down with my Dad’s slides! The picture is of his mother who used to entertain the troops singing and dancing in WWI like Bob Hope did in WWII.

My dad took a lot of nature photography, animals, and artistic scenes and made a calendar for many years with his best pics.  I knew there would be a lot of those types of pictures but was hoping for some family shots as well.  I was not to be disappointed!

Here’s a shot of me as a baby.  I had never seen picture until now!

There were a good number of other great shots that I had never seen before of me and my family.

Here, a young Kermit plays Peek a Boo for Dad the Cameraman!

Recently, we brought everything I had saved from everywhere to one spot and began the process of trying to organize things in some fashion.  I can’t believe all that I’ve collected over the years and now realize I will need more space to properly store it.  It’s amazing how seeing items can bring back a flood of memories.

I will continue to collect stuff for my personal archives as well as for Fantasy of Flight and am beginning to think there will always be job security for my archivist!

Kermit

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