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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #191  (Vol. 4, No. 47)  This edition is for the week of November 17--23.

The History of Aviation in Florida, Part One: 1911 to 1917, Early Heavier-than-Air Flight
 by Will Moriaty
"Love Actually"
 by Mike Smith
Hey, Ralphie Boy!....Tampa International Airport....Movie Notes....Good Stuff
 by Mike Smith
Forry, Ferry, and Me
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'....Another List....In The Hall....Happy Birthday....Moving On
 by Mike Smith
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The History of Aviation in Florida
Part One: 1911 to 1917, Early Heavier-than-Air Flight

December 17, 2003 will mark the one hundred year anniversary of heavier than air flight. One century earlier, bicycle manufacturers Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton, Ohio launched their invention, the airplane, from the dunes of Kill Devil Hills along the Atlantic Ocean in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

This single event would revolutionize the world of transportation forever. From this initial test run, a distance slightly shorter than the length of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, humankind has taken wings and flown faster than the speed of sound; flown in aircraft capable of holding as many people as that of a small village; manned spacecraft around the earth's orbit and even to the moon and back.

One of the major players in the field of the growth and evolution of aviation has been the State of Florida. Blessed with almost year around safe flying conditions, the Sunshine State's contributions to aviation are both profound and colorful.

We will spend the next several weeks discussing some of this rich and vast history that has been so instrumental in making the world smaller while expanding trade and commerce.

The First Heavier-than-Air Flight Over Florida
Most of us take for granted or even ignore the sights and sounds of commercial, military and private aircraft that so commonly roam the skies of the sunshine State above us. But there was a time, not that long ago from a relative standpoint, when such a thing did not exist - - until Glenn Curtiss exhibition flyer Lincoln Beachy flew over Orlando in February 1910. Beachy also flew the first heavier than air flight to occur during nightfall in Florida over Tampa in March 1911.

The First Air-to-Ground Wireless Transmission
The first air to ground wireless transmission in history occured when John A.D. McCurdy piloted his airplane over Palm Beach in 1911.

The First Night Flight Over Florida
The first heavier-than-air flight to occur over Florida during nightfall was in March 1911 when Glenn Curtiss exhibition flyer Lincoln Beachy flew his biplane over Tampa.

The First Scheduled Passenger Airline and Air Cargo Flight
On January 1, 1914, pilot Tony Jannus flew his Benoist airboat over a 21mile route between St. Petersburg and Tampa in the world's first scheduled passenger airline, the Tampa-St. Petersburg Airboat Line. In its historic three-month run of operation it carried 1,205 passengers and logged over 11,000 miles. More in-depth coverage of this can be found in PCR #85 (http://www.crazedfanboy.com/nolansnewsstand/popculturereview85.html).

The World's Oldest International Airline
Chalk's Airways began service in Miami in 1919. Founded by Arthur Burns "Pappy" Chalk, Chalk flew passengers in his three seat Curtiss HS-2L from Miami's Watson Island, where the carrier still maintains a base of operation to this day, to the Bahamas. Chalk, a native of Paducah, Kentucky, learned to fly in a Benoist airboat from famed aviator Tony Jannus. In 1964 at age 75, Chalk retired from flying, logging 16,800 hours and a perfect flying record.

First Coast-to-Coast Flight
In 1911, publisher William Randolph Hearst offered $50,000 to the first aviator to successfully fly across America by October 11th of that year. Robert G. Fowler left San Francisco, California in his Wright Model B on September 10, 1911, landing in Jacksonville on February 8, 1912. Although he did not meet Hearst's requirement, he was nevertheless the first aviator to complete a transcontinental flight across the country.

Florida Gets A Naval Air Station
On January 20, 1914, nine officers and twenty-three enlisted men arrived with seven aircraft and several portable hangers to establish the Aeronautical Center of Pensacola. The Pensacola Naval Air Station, as it would later be known, would figure prominently in the training of pilots in the First and Second World Wars, as well as become the home base for the precision aerobatic team, the Blue Angels.

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World"
Across the Atlantic Ocean war broke out in Europe, and with the signing of pen President Woodrow Wilson declared World War One on April 6, 1917. As of that date, the United States aviation forces were ill prepared for combat, ranking fourteenth amongst the planet's nations. That dubious distinction would change very quickly and very dramatically.

Famed aviator Glenn Curtiss started his flight school in Miami and the Everglades about 1911, well before the 1917 outbreak of war. An entrepreneur as well, Curtiss would also go on to develope the nearby towns of Miami Springs, Hialeah and Opa Locka. In addition to Pensacola and Miami, training bases also opened in Key West and Arcadia, where testing of the world's first guided missile occurred in 1919 at Carlstrom Field.

Next Week: In Part Two, The First World War Gives Way to the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression as Barnstormers, World Beaters and Commercial Airports Get a Foot Hold on Florida, all right here in Nolan's Pop Culture Review.

Meet "TED"
Just when I thought the state of today's commercial aviation scene could not get much stranger, United Air Lines announced their answer to Delta's low-cost carrier "Song".

Yes, an airline named "Song" which has its Boeing 757s painted up in swirls of white and day-glo lime green, now has a new low-cost competitor named "Ted" - - and someone got paid a fortune to think that one up!

When approached by U.S.A. Today on the name selection, United Executive Vice President John Tague replied "We'd like to soften the institutional feeling of United" - - yeah, right.

In light of this move to derive names for low-cost carriers from their progenitors, I recommend the following. Maybe I can get a lot of money for thinking these up too:

American: Eric
Continental : Al
Delta: Del
Frontier: Ron
U.S. Airways: US

"Ted" is slated to start service from Tampa to Denver sometime in February next year.

Gustavo Perez Update
While we’re on the subject of Florida Folk Heroes and media personalities, here’s an update on the latest in the world of actor Gustavo Perez.

Gus will be seen in the John Travolta feature length movie “The Punisher’, which was recently filmed in Tampa and named after the Marvel Comics feature by the same title. In one scene he appears with Travolta, and in two or three other scenes he is seen portraying a pin-striped thug in a black suit that is a member of the "Toro Gang". The movie is tentatively slated for release on April 13, 2004.

Gus will be also be featured en Español and in English in a half-hour long infomercial advertisement for Viagra. He will have a five to six minute speaking role in those productions.

Gus is also featured in a scene about fifteen minutes into the Denzel Washington and Eva Mendez movie "Out of Time" which is currently at the movies.

On the local theater scene, Gus played an 80-year-old man in the Gorilla Theater production of "Aristophanes Lysistrata", which ran about four months ago

Lastly, Gus is making a movie along with Bay area film producer, director, and actor Mark Nash, and Bay area actress Rebecca Holycross about the tragic outcome of an attempt by the Cuban government to create a Super Soldier whose mission will be to wreak havoc and invade the coast of Florida.

Seven to eight scenes are actually filmed at four or five locations in Cuba, one of them in front of La Floradita, the legendary Havana bar that writer Ernest Hemmingway frequented when he still lived in nearby Key West. About 40 minutes of film is in the can so far for this feature, some of which was video-graphed by none other than PCR publisher Nolan Canova!

More updates as events unfold.

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.