2023 AMT 40 Under 40 Maintenance Professional: Patrick G. Peterson, Owner, A&P, Repair Station Administrator, Sunshine Aviation Services

Aug. 10, 2023

Patrick Peterson has been an automotive mechanic, a diesel mechanic and a service tech. He ran his own business rebuilding snowplow hydraulics for five years. But none of it seemed to stick for him, not that he was bad at what did, but he didn’t truly enjoy it.

“I've never thought that you had to, at the end of the week, love what you do for a living. It was more about do what you need to so that you can do what you love,” he said.

That was until he took a chance on aviation, responding to a Craigslist ad offering on the job training. And that stuck.

“I absolutely love everything about it, down to the point where I'm often sleeping in my office at work, just work until I drop and get my six to eight hours in and go back to it,” Peterson said.

He’s now the owner of Sunshine Aviation Services, a combination of Sunshine Aircraft Repair and Waukegan Avionics. Peterson bought both.

“I'm more into the avionics end than maintenance, though the shop is maintenance. We've got a full staff for all of that – but basically, general aviation service, repair, and upgrade is what we'll generally see. Every once in a while, we break into turbines, sometimes into experimental, but more certified GA,” Peterson described.

He said his favorite thing about the work they do is interacting with people and rising to the challenge of the customers' demands.

“I love to get done what we get done, but it wouldn't be anything without the people that we're doing it for and with,” he said.

Now in the industry for six years and owning his own facilities, Peterson looks at his own path into the industry and thinks that more needs to be done to promote the opportunities and possibilities of an aviation career.

“It took me until I was 30 years old to touch an airplane. I didn't have anyone that even put it in my ear that it was feasible for me to be involved in aviation at all. I think people need to broadcast that there's no shame in being involved in what you might call a service industry. Not everyone is cut out for college, that there are tons of career options in aviation and all of them pay well. We should make sure that we cultivate their interests,” he continued.