On a bright New Year’s Day morning in 1914, an enthusiastic crowd that had gathered at the yacht basin in St. Petersburg, Florida, cheered with delight as a fragile-looking Benoist XIV floatplane left the water and pointed its blunt nose in the direction of nearby Tampa. Squeezed into the tiny cockpit were pioneer aviator Tony Jannus and Abe Pheil, a former St. Petersburg mayor who had bid $400 to become the first fare-paying passenger on the world’s first scheduled, fixed-wing ...

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