Approval from the city of St. Petersburg, Florida has been obtained, and the central feature will be a full-size replica of the Benoist Airboat, the first commercial aircraft.
Will Michaels, President of Flight 2014, Inc, says monuments help to mark the spirit of a place. “This is a story of both a Florida and a world first,” he says. “It is a story of the spirit of entrepreneurship worldwide, and a story of the spirit of Tampa Bay—a future-oriented community embracing the latest in innovation, taking a risk on a new idea, and proving the practical value of it all.
“It is first and foremost an inspiring story of the human spirit, and also a matter of community pride,” he continues. “While many may read a chronical about the first airline, many others will learn by visiting an engaging monument at an historic site. There is something magical about being at the very place where it all happened.”
Flight 2014 is seeking to raise half the funds from the airline industry and half from the Tampa Bay community. IATA is among the many aviation organizations that have already generously donated. Southwest, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Airlines for America, the Airline Reporting Corporation, the Tony Jannus Distinguished Flying Association, and the Florida Aviation Historical Society are among the other contributors.
It is first and foremost an inspiring story of the human spirit, and also a matter of community pride
St. Petersburg’s most noted landscape architectural firm, Phil Graham Landscape Architecture, has already donated their services to plan the surrounding Benoist Plaza site. Panels will tell the first airline story—which IATA celebrated extensively in 2014—and a time capsule of historic information is under consideration. A row of palms and a green berm will serve as background to the plaza blending the monument into waterfront parks. Blue pavers will simulate the water which served as the Benoist Airboat’s runway.
Sponsorships and donations may be made online at airlinecentennial.org or by mail at: Flight 2014, Inc., Post Office Box 610, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33731. Sponsors will be credited at the First Airline Monument site.