25 April, 2019

#TBT: Neoteric Hovercraft’s First Customer

Rarely can a company credit its origin to a single individual or family. Neoteric Hovercraft is proud to be one of those rare companies, with great thanks to the Talmage family of Long Island, New York, who helped launch Neoteric in the USA.

In the mid-1960s, John Talmage, a farmer and a pilot, and his 5- and 9-year old sons Henry and Bill, built a hovercraft from photos he’d seen in Popular Mechanics. Today, the original Talmage hovercraft hangs from the rafters of an aircraft hangar on their farm …

What followed is a true example of “six degrees of separation”. When 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 provided by his 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. Popular Mechanics soon published a feature story about the Neova 2, which immediately kicked off sales of Neova 2 kits for Neoteric. And, as they say, the rest is history.