Fantasy of Flight founder to pay tribute to historic flight - WFLA News Channel 8

Fantasy of Flight founder to pay tribute to historic flight

Posted: Updated:
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Tucked away in a hanger surrounded by classic planes, work continues on a reproduction of an aircraft that helped launch an industry.

Kermit Weeks, who founded Fantasy of Flight in Polk County, is the man behind all the action.  He loves flying and wanted to pay tribute to the 1st commercial flight.

"The flight started the whole industry,” said Weeks.

Related content: Polk aviation enthusiast to re-create first commercial flight

In 1913, Tony Jannus flew a Benoist airboat from St. Petersburg to Tampa's Davis Islands, before there were bridges to link the communities.  He took one passenger on a round trip that last about 40 minutes. The cost:  $5.

Kermit Weeks enlisted his team from to rebuild the plane to the same specifications of the Jannus aircraft.  His plan was to re-create the flight to pay tribute to the 100 year anniversary.

The whole idea took off nearly three years ago, and crews are now working around the clock to meet the deadline on January 1st.

Andy Salter has been along for the ride.  He says he has been working 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day for months.  He is excited about the idea of putting something together that hasn't existed in years.

The original Benoist that made the initial flight is gone.  Kermit Weeks says there were no blueprints or designs. He made trips to the Smithsonian in Washington DC to study a similar aircraft.  His team fabricated parts and used materials that would have been on the Jannus plane.

The crew is waiting on approval from the FAA so they can take the Benoist for a test flight. Weeks says he expects to get the approval and have his reproduction up in the air this weekend.

Don’t miss out on the day’s top Facebook conversations http://on.fb.me/18y81Cl



  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • RECALL: Fruit at trader Joe's

    RECALL: Fruit at trader Joe's

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:04 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:04:11 GMT
    The specialty food store Trader Joe's is recalling some types of fresh produce for a possible listeria contamination.
    The specialty food store Trader Joe's is recalling some types of fresh produce for a possible listeria contamination.
  • How to find out if sinkholes are in your neighborhood

    How to find out if sinkholes are in your neighborhood

    Monday, July 21 2014 5:43 PM EDT2014-07-21 21:43:25 GMT
    A 2004 sinkhole in Deltona was four lanes wide. Associated Press file photoA 2004 sinkhole in Deltona was four lanes wide. Associated Press file photo
    Wondering if there are sinkholes in your neighborhood? Or, are you purchasing a home and want to know about sinkhole activity in the area?
    Wondering if there are sinkholes in your neighborhood? Or, are you purchasing a home and want to know about sinkhole activity in the area?
  • NewsMore>>

  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • Geo experts to investigate Spring Hill sinkhole

    Geo experts to investigate Spring Hill sinkhole

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:57 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:57:02 GMT
    Hernando County engineers and contractors will return to a sinkhole on Elderidge Dr. Tuesday with specialized geotechnical equipment to investigate what's happening underground.
    Hernando County engineers and contractors will return to a sinkhole on Elderidge Dr. Tuesday with specialized geotechnical equipment to investigate what's happening underground.
  • Report card for Tampa Mayor Buckhorn earns him high marks

    Report card for Tampa Mayor Buckhorn earns him high marks

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-22 10:44:38 GMT
    Artist rendering downtown TampaArtist rendering downtown Tampa
    Tampa's Mayor makes the grade with downtown investors.On the campaign trail Mayor Bob Buckhorn promised to turn a city where the sidewalks would roll up when the work whistle would blow, into a place where people could live, work and play."
    Tampa's Mayor makes the grade with downtown investors.On the campaign trail Mayor Bob Buckhorn promised to turn a city where the sidewalks would roll up when the work whistle would blow, into a place where people could live, work and play."
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.