About Jacob

Zagi co-owner, Jacob Marble, is a software engineer who grew up playing in the dirt in his mother’s garden with his younger brothers. He hails from Southern California, Reno, Nevada, and northern Utah and now Sandpoint, Idaho. From a young age, he fixed his own bike and started to tinker with things. He learned the value of working for a family business with his dad, a professional handyman, who encouraged his children to build things.

“(I) worked for my dad to earn money … going to work with him is one of my strongest memories. Most Christmases yielded one or two new tools for my own toolbox, and I still have many of those,” Jacob said.

He was in junior high when the Internet was born and quickly became the “de facto computer nerd leader” when it came to rigging up game systems for multiple players. In the seventh grade, he won an award for “Excellence in Computers” when he used the school’s first Internet-connected computer. He won the school’s award again after he set up a computer to act as a server in the computer lab so more of his friends could play, “Rise of the Triad.”

“In school, I was quiet and nerdy. I liked to play with computers (and) try to break them and fix them,” he said.

In spite of his interest in machines, Jacob didn’t own RC-controlled planes until after he finished high school.

“As a kid, I really liked the idea of radio-controlled airplanes but never had a chance to do anything about it. I used to imagine a tiny hangar on the roof of my house with an automatic door and a radio-controlled helicopter inside,” he said.

After high school, Jacob joined the Army and served in Afghanistan as an interrogator. It was there where he was introduced to RC helicopters. He purchased an E-Sky Lama V2, which didn’t survive his multiple crash landings as he learned to control it.

While in the Army, Jacob attended the University of Utah and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Computer Science with three minors: Spanish, Chinese and Math. Senior year, he learned about the school’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) laboratory, which piqued his interest in RC vehicles.

“They hired me, and although the pay was next to nothing … I got some great team work experience. There were undergrad and graduate students in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science. Together, we worked on several projects centered on collecting infrared images of agricultural and natural water features, which were used to conserve water resources,” Jacob said. He and his colleagues also took first place in the Student Unmanned Aerial Systems competition, hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

In the lab, they developed and produced flying wings. There, he developed an interest that has never left him and gave him a deeper appreciation for airplanes. He also interned at DJI Innovations, a drone manufacturer in China. After being involved with flying wings and quad copters, the efficiency of airplanes is what lead him to acquire Zagi.

“Airplanes are more efficient than a quads or a helicopters; that will never change. A Zagi-style flying wing is such a simple, perfect system that it gives me chills!” he said.

Earlier this year, while attending the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Expo, he listened to Al Bowers, a senior aerodynamicist for NASA, speak about the Horten brothers and wing tip vortices. The Horten Brothers were Walter and Reimar Horten, two German aircraft pilots who are most known for their advanced aircraft design. The Hortens’ designs are similar in appearance to the Zagi flying wing. Jacob went home from the AMA Expo and hit the books, eager to learn more about this elegant approach to flying.

Not long after the AMA Expo, he received an email from Jerry Teisan announcing his retirement from Zagi. Jacob called his cousin, Josh the same day, knowing they shared an interest in aviation.

And the rest is not history but rather the future of Zagi. Jacob is focused on maintaining the business and website while Josh is heading the manufacturing end of Zagi. Eventually, they’d like to incorporate a Horten wing to the Zagi repertoire, among other designs. For now though, it’s important for them to take care of Zagi’s existing designs and customers.

“Since (acquiring Zagi), I haven’t had a minute to think about Horten or even about aerodynamics. I dropped the aerodynamics books and picked up, “Small Business for Dummies,” he said. However, ideas for new designs continue to percolate in the back of his mind and he’ll work out the kinks at night. The original Zagi wings won’t be going away because of their classic and time-tested designs. “Zagi’s strength is in flying wings, and” we’ll continue to grow within that niche!”

About Josh

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 makes 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 currently works as a machinist for a foam manufacturer doing custom work on a large 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 hot wire, foam machining, especially four-axis. That’s my niche, and it’s lent itself well to Zagi,” Josh said.

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. In terms of new designs, he and Jacob are working on a scale model of a wing designed by the Horten brothers.

“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.”