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Benoist XIV (Type XIV)

Flying Boat Airliner [ 1914 ]

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: 11/25/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

Not in Service.


Benoist Aircraft Company - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
Commercial Aviation
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.

26.1 ft
(7.95 m)
44.0 ft
(13.40 m)
Empty Wgt
1,257 lb
(570 kg)
1,587 lb
(720 kg)
Wgt Diff
+331 lb
(+150 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Benoist XIV production variant)
Installed: 1 x Roberts Straight-6 engine developing 75 horsepower and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller in pusher arrangement.
Max Speed
64 mph
(103 kph | 56 kts)
124 mi
(200 km | 108 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Benoist XIV production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Benoist XIV - Base Series Designation; two examples completed ('The Lark of Duluth' and 'Florida').

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Images Gallery

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Image of the Benoist XIV (Type XIV)
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