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EXECUTIVE WATCH


JOHN TALMADGE Director of Worldwide Sales at Avidyne By Rick Weatherford


John Talmadge, director of worldwide sales for avionics company Avidyne, says he didn’t choose to work in the helicopter industry; instead, he was born into it. “My dad was a Vietnam War pilot, doing what he called his (high school) ‘senior trip’ to Southeast Asia in 1970,” Talmadge says. “They had nose art on their aircraft back then. The lady painted on his helicopter had a baby bump. That bump was me.”


What started out as a baby bump developed into a lifelong passion for aviation. After his military service, the father worked at Air Logistics and Commercial Helicopters in the oilfield business. “So, I grew up in Louisiana, cutting grass around helicopters and washing them as early as I can remember. I generally spent my formative years in oilfield helicopter support, so


16 Jan/Feb 2020


working at Avidyne with helicopters is a return to my rotorcraft roots,” Talmadge says. “I thought it was normal to go to airfields in Morgan City, Patterson, and Venice, Louisiana, and Rockport, Texas, on a given Saturday with my dad, until I later figured out that’s not how most kids spent their weekends. But it was a family affair for us.”


After those young years, Talmadge attended LSU (“Geaux Tigers!” he interjects) in 1988 to study electrical engineering. After two years on the Baton Rouge campus, Talmadge signed into the Army National Guard and became a Huey crew chief. In a rare father-son military moment, Talmadge and his dad actually served together in the same C-company unit. Having secured GI Bill benefits,


Talmadge left the Guard to earn his degree in aviation science from Northwestern State University, located in the college town of Natchitoches, Louisiana.


Next, Talmadge said bye-bye to the Bayou State and headed up the Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee, with his flight instructor’s certificate in hand. There, he worked himself to the bone like he was the subject of a hard-luck Memphis blues song. “When I lived in Memphis, there was a time when I had a degree and four pilot ratings, but still had to wait tables to make ends meet,” he says. It’s a familiar refrain for many a fledgling pilot, but Talmadge earned another rating, this time as a dispatcher, which opened up a door with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta as a dispatcher instructor.


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