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Park City Aviators - Uniquely Engineered

Exceptional companies are built by exceptional people. When people are molded by just the right set of circumstances and experiences throughout their lives, they become capable of great things in whatever field they choose. Inventors, poets, athletes, and titans of industry can all trace their successes back to decisions and events in their early lives that prepared them to change their fields forever.

Over the past 120 years, the aviation industry has benefited from countless explorers, leaders, engineers, and pioneers who enriched the field through their bravery and grit. But few men have ever been considered all of the above. Pete Zaccagnino is one such individual. Pete was born to a hard-working Italian American family in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His early childhood taught him the value of pragmatism and honesty at the hands of several hard-nosed educators. Pete’s passion for aviation led him to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he enrolled in aeronautical engineering. Already gaining experience as a businessman, Pete quickly found himself paying for the majority of his schooling by teaching his peers how to fly tailwheel aircraft: a 1946 Aeronca Champ. Before long, Pete was spending more time in the sky than on the ground.

In the years after his graduation, Pete Zaccagnino took to aviation with increased vigor, and his life’s work truly began to take shape. He spent thousands of hours building airplanes, fabricating parts, and deepening his knowledge of even the most unique aircraft types. Although to this point his education was primarily in engineering, Pete also honed his skills as an exceptional pilot; setting a number of world records for speed and endurance over great distances. This proclivity for pushing the boundaries of aviation eventually led Pete to a lauded career as a test pilot. Although flying new experimental aircraft for the first time may seem daring, Pete said he was drawn to the career path because, “it was the perfect blend of flying, engineering, and aircraft design.” And as if that wasn’t enough aeronautical experience for one lifetime, Pete has spent much of his free time over the years perfecting his air racing career, in which he currently holds four Gold Class Championship titles from the STIHL National Championship Air Races. Pete’s racing jet, an Aero L-29 Delfin named “Just Lucky”, is an apt analogy for Pete’s aviation career; so long as we’re using legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s definition of luck: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” And Pete has certainly had his share of preparation.

However, Pete Zaccagnino would be the first to agree that it takes more than just experience in your field to build a truly exceptional company. It takes someone who seeks exceptionalism in every part of their life; a modern renaissance man. In addition to his illustrious aviation career, Pete Zaccagnino has authored two military spy-thriller novels (with a third on the way), become a certified sommelier, designed a best-selling video game, was inducted into NJ Aviation Hall of Fame, and visited every country on Earth except for Madagascar, as Discovery Channel enjoyed touting. As a citizen of the world his exposure brought many exciting opportunities including developing a blisteringly fast supercar, dropping into halfpipes with the great skateboarders of our time, and being gifted a set of Presidential cufflinks by George H. W. Bush. All these experiences do more than paint an impressive picture of the man. They illustrate the dedication and passion required to find exceptional success in an industry that is already rife with talented minds. So, of all these honors and accolades, what is Pete Zaccagnino’s proudest accomplishment? Pete unequivocally says, “In my career, the proudest accomplishment is the work we’ve been able to do at Park City Aviators to change the private aviation industry for the better.”

In 2008, Pete Zaccagnino founded Park City Aviators, a Utah-based private aircraft management company, with the goal of changing an industry that had been woefully inefficient with the money of its customers. “I knew the costs associated with the jobs being done, and it was staggering how much these people were paying for their private travel. The margins that some of these companies were working with were borderline predatory.” Pete is referring to charter, fractional aircraft ownership, and even other private management companies that charge exorbitant prices because they know their clientele can afford it. “The goal in starting Park City Aviators was to create a company that acts as a fiduciary for our clients while personalizing their travel… Our process is completely transparent, and our clients really appreciate the decisions we’re able to make to save them money while keeping them on schedule.” Many of these time and money-saving processes are simply products of Pete’s vast industry network. “A plane might need to go down for necessary maintenance, and we’re already on the phone securing a replacement for our client to get them where they need to go.”

While conscientiousness about clients’ time and money are a significant part of Park City Aviators’ value proposition, clients actually say they appreciate the company’s tailor-made approach more than anything else. When asked about it, Pete smiled and said, “We create a unique flight profile for each new client; taking into account a variety of different factors to create a management plan that suits their needs and budget perfectly. If they need their pilots camping out at the FBO ready at a moment’s notice, we can make that happen. If they give us their annual flight schedule in January, then they’ll see reduced crew costs as a result.” Fairness and flexibility seem to be a constant theme in Pete Zaccagnino’s life, and the clients are thankful that his work reflects that. Long-term client of Park City Aviators and retired Goldman Sachs CIO, Larry Cohen, had this to say, “I initially considered a few options for my private travel including charter and fractional ownership, but the cost-savings and peace of mind that come with owning your own properly managed aircraft can’t be beat. I’ve been working with Park City Aviators for eight years now, and I’ve never looked back.”

These days, Pete’s time is mostly spent supporting clients of Park City Aviators from both the cockpit and the corner office. He has never lost his love for flying, and just eclipsed 24,000 total hours in the air. When asked if he will continue air racing in the future, Pete says, “As long as the challenge is there, we will rise to meet it.” So it seems safe to say that “Just Lucky” will be present at the 2023 STIHL National Championship Air Races seeking a fifth Gold Medal with the lucky man himself, Pete Zaccagnino.


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