18 January, 2011

The John Talmage Family: Neoteric's First Customers

Only rarely is a corporation that has existed for decades able to credit its origin to a specific individual or, in this case, a family. We would like to share the story of how the Talmage potato-farming family of Long Island, New York, helped launch Neoteric Hovercraft in the USA.

In the mid-1960s John Talmage, a farmer and a licensed pilot, along with his sons Henry and Bill, ages 5 and 9, built their own version of a hovercraft from photographs he had seen in Popular Mechanics magazine. Today, the original Talmage craft hangs from the rafters of the aircraft hangar on their Riverhead Farm on Long Island …
What followed is a true example of “six degrees of separation”. At the time he built his hovercraft, John’s sister Mary Ellen lived in Melbourne, Australia. Her landlord was Derrick Ravenscroft, a British draftsman at The Aeronautical Research Laboratories, where Neoteric’s now-President Chris Fitzgerald was employed. Mary Ellen showed Ravenscroft photos of “the crazy thing my brother and his sons built.” Ravenscroft then showed the photos to Fitzgerald.

In 1970, while on a world hovercraft research tour sponsored by a Rotary International Foundation award, Chris Fitzgerald visited the Talmages on Long Island and a lifelong friendship was begun.

When Fitzgerald moved to the USA in 1975 and founded Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc., John Talmage financed the first hovercraft manufactured by the company: the original Neova 2, constructed of wood and fiberglass. Here, the Neova 2 is parked outside the Talmage hangar at their Riverhead Farm just after its arrival from Neoteric in Terre Haute, Indiana ...
This first hovercraft was used to develop the Neova 2 hovercraft kit and to garner publicity. John Talmage did not come to Indiana to collect his hovercraft until 1978. Back on Long Island, Popular Mechanics published a feature story of several pages about the Neova 2, which immediately kicked off sales of Neova 2 kits for Neoteric. And, as they say, the rest is history.

The Talmages visit Neoteric

Neoteric was honored in 2010 by a visit from John Talmage and his wife Carol. Here, Chris Fitzgerald looks on while John and Carol describe their history with Neoteric to factory employees …

At the end of the day touring the Neoteric factory, the Talmages were treated to a cruise on the Wabash River, with Fitzgerald piloting the company's training hovercraft …
It was a pleasure for everyone at Neoteric to meet the legendary Talmages. We would like to express our gratitude for their vision and confidence during our early days that has played such a significant role in moving Neoteric forward through the years.

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