The Benoist XIV, introduced in 1913 and known as The Lark of Duluth, became the first commercial passenger-hauler in the United States.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the Public Domain.
The Benoist XIV was an American-originated, passenger-oriented flying boat design of the World War 1 period (1914-1918). The aircraft saw its first flight in 1913 and was formally introduced the following year with just two examples being completed by Benoist. The design was attributed to company owner Thomas W. Benoist, both an aviator and aeroplane builder, and managed a short flying career - retired as soon as 1914.
Despite its limited flying career, the Type XIV served as the world's first heavier-than-air passenger hauler and was also notable in becoming the first airliner to see operational service for the United States. The first production example was named "The Lark of Duluth" due to its early passenger-carrying use in Duluth, Minnesota. Its official designation being "Model 43". The second aircraft, "Model 45", was named the "Florida" due to its time as a passenger hauler in the state of Florida.
The Type XIV was given an equal-span biplane wing arrangement that utilized parallel struts for support as well as applicable cabling throughout. At the center of the design was an underslung fuselage nacelle carrying two persons, the pilot and a passenger in side-by-side seating. The fuselage also supported the single engine installation as well as the needed fuel stores. Power was served from a Roberts-branded straight-six engine of 75 horsepower used to drive a two-bladed wooden propeller in "pusher" fashion, the propelled unit facing aft and "pushing" the aircraft through the skies (as opposed to pulling it). All told, the biplane could manage a maximum speed of 64 miles-per-hour and reach out to a range of 125 miles.
After its less-than-stellar showing in Duluth, the Type XIV was operated by Thomas Benoist and partner Percival Fansier through the newly-formed St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line as a passenger-hauler. The route ran between the two cities, establishing the first American commercial air service involving passengers.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 2 Units ] : Benoist Aircraft Company - USA
- Navy / Maritime
- Commercial Market
26.08 ft (7.95 m)
43.96 ft (13.4 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Benoist XIV production model)
1,257 lb (570 kg)
1,587 lb (720 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Benoist XIV production model)
1 x Roberts Straight-6 engine developing 75 horsepower and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller in pusher arrangement.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Benoist XIV production model)
64 mph (103 kph; 56 kts)
124 miles (200 km; 108 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Benoist XIV production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Benoist XIV production model)
Benoist XIV - Base Series Designation; two examples completed ('The Lark of Duluth' and 'Florida').
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