December 15, 1912
Aviation pioneer Antony Habersack “Tony” Jannus arrived in New Orleans at the end of an extensive and record-setting flight that had begun in the Great Plains the previous month. Jannus had flown out of Omaha in a Benoist Land Tractor Type XII biplane on November 6.
Jannus wanted to make this trip between the Gateway to the West and the Crescent City by flying over the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, so his aircraft was outfitted with pontoons to allow him to travel both just above the water and on its surface. After departing from Omaha, Jannus – attaining a speed of 60 miles (96.6 kilometers) per hour in the biplane and covering 75 miles (120.7 kilometers) in 77 minutes – reached Nebraska City and spent the first night of his ambitious trek there.
Over the next 38 days, Jannus continued to make his way towards New Orleans. (The above photo shows Jannus and his aircraft with a crowd of onlookers during a stopover somewhere in Arkansas.) Along with performing 42 aerial exhibitions in various cities en route, Jannus dealt with such challenges as damaged pontoons that had to be repaired. Another major complication took place in St. Louis when his plane caught fire. This fire, which was caused by gasoline leaking into the cockpit, resulted in Jannus replacing his now-damaged Benoist biplane with a new one for the rest of the journey.
Jannus traveled 1,973 miles (3,175.2 kilometers) altogether during this flight. He was given an official welcome in New Orleans the day after he had landed in that city. Jannus’s journey established a new long-distance record for flight via a winged aircraft. Jannus also set a long-distance record for carrying a passenger in a heavier-than-air machine when he gave William H. Trefts, Jr., a ride from St. Louis to New Orleans. Jannus’s flight, and the aerial exhibitions he staged along the way, also further encouraged strong enthusiasm for aviation among thousands of people.
For more information on Tony Jannus, please check out https://firstflight.org/tony-jannus/