Originally from Cache Valley, Utah (Logan and Providence), co-owner Josh grew up with a love of aircraft.
“I really loved planes as a kid – my dad would build balsa gliders and powered planes. We always had rubber band and balsa planes of one kind or another,” he said.
His father worked as a NASA contractor on shuttle instrumentation, and his mother at one point worked for Daedalus, which made UAVs. She would often bring home foam wing cores that had been scrapped at the plant and give them to him and his brothers to build their own planes.
“My brothers and I would tape them together and fly them in the yard, of course, failing miserably, but it was fun to try flying!” he said. What he liked most about model airplanes was imagining himself flying in them.
It was at an military airshow that the then 9-year-old Josh attended that made him want to stop imagining and become a pilot. In the same day, he flew in a helicopter and a Cessna plane where was able to sit in the co-pilot’s seat and use the controls. There were also WWII planes dropping flour bombs on targets. “That day just blew my mind,” he said.
Later, in school he took an ASVAB test, a military aptitude test that measures academic and occupational placement preference in the military. The test results showed he would be a good helicopter pilot, but a recruiter said that at 6 feet 4 inches, he was too tall for the career. “So I just put it out of my head and moved on to other things.” Those other things were making and designing everything from homes to mechanical parts.
He again pursued a career in aviation but this time as a facilities manager. Josh worked at Piasecki Aircraft Corporation for four years in Essington, Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia, where he wore a variety of hats as a facilities manager there, including machinist. During his time there, he worked on the Turais and Air Scout and did some machining and engine work. After leaving, he continued to work as a contractor and made foam helicopter duct cores for them. “It was my first major project in foam and got me really into working with the material,” he said.
Three years ago, he and his family moved to Spirit Lake, Idaho, just north of Coeur d’Alene, in the hopes of raising “free range kids” and pursuing goals less feasible in the big city of Philadelphia. He is currently self employed as a machinist doing custom work on a large cnc router and hotwire cutter. His experience segues perfectly with manufacturing Zagi wings.
“In the machining world, everyone is focused on subtractive processes with metal … but no one really is doing precise hot wire or foam machining, especially four-axis. That’s my niche, and it’s lent itself well to Zagi,” Josh said. He is currently building a 4 axis wire saw so he can cut materials that don’t melt.
In April of 2016, his cousin, Jacob Marble, told him about the opportunity to acquire Zagi, and it took little convincing. “I thought it was a really cool idea, but something that could be improved on and where I could apply my manufacturing skills,” he said. He was also attracted to the Zagi community and wants to enforce the spirit of group competition to where he lives in North Idaho.
As for the future of Zagi, Josh would like to reduce the number of processes in assembling the kits, change the coating and make an Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) and Ready to Fly (RTF) model.
“I’d like to come up with a really small plane that would be an aerodynamic tool for teaching STEM,” he said. “And, I’d like to spend more time designing and flying Zagis.”