It’s with great pride and sadness that we announce that Mr. John Melarkey, Chief Pylon Judge for the Reno Air Racing Association, has retired following a remarkable tenure of service to RARA.

A long-standing pillar of the Air Racing community here in Reno, John has been a volunteer in the Pylon Judge group for 56 years. 

John spent the last 22 years as the Chief Pylon Judge and through this role he brought leadership, expertise, and encouragement that very few people could match. He challenged the team to take on new roles within the races such as adding additional flight operations safety standards and lighting several key areas of the course. He also oversaw the Pylon Patch Design Contest, which saw the Pylon Judges competing for next year’s patch design. Through all his efforts, John brought this group of people closer together.

Vice Chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association Board, Terry Matter gave voice to that sentiment when he shared the following. “Since 1999 I have admired his management of this large group of volunteers that must be strategically placed around the race courses used by six unique classes of aircraft. He and his team of pylon judges professionally manage all air racing events ensuring safe racing and complete rule compliance. John is highly regarded and trusted by all race class presidents, and they accept his racing judgements.”

James Greathouse, Mr. Melarkey’s right-hand man and successor to the role, added, “Under John’s tenure as the Chief Pylon Judge, the group has taken on additional responsibilities which have included adding additional flight operations safety standards, such as lighting in several key locations on the course that can be seen by the pilots, additional security check points to ensure only authorized personnel are on the field, and numerous new safety protocols that ensure the safety of our volunteer staff.”

Fittingly in 2016, John was recognized as RARA’s annual Person of the Year for all his hard work and dedication. This was just a small way to show him how truly thankful we are for everything he has done for RARA.

We will greatly miss seeing John lead the Pylon Judging Team at the races this year, but know he has built a great team that will carry on his legacy. 

Thank you John for all you have done over the last 56 years. You will always be a member of the RARA Family.