Reno Air Racing Association Announces New Deputy Director of Operations and Deputy Air Bosses for the STIHL National Championship Air Races

-Scheduled for September 12-16, 2018 at Reno-Stead Airport-

 Reno, Nev. – The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) is pleased to announce Mike O’Brien as Deputy Director of Operations, Walter A. “Tony” Grady Jr. Deputy Air Boss of Race Operations and Owen Ashurst as the Deputy Air Boss of Performers for the 55th annual STIHL National Championship Air Races, scheduled September 12-16, 2018 at Reno-Stead Airport. O’Brien will report to Terry Matter, Director of Operations and Secretary of the RARA Board, and Tony and Owen will report to Greg “Shifty” Peairs, RARA Air Boss.

Beginning his aviation career in 1972, Mike O’Brien has flown a variety of aircraft and missions all over the world. He has over 25 years of senior corporate and operations management, and in 1986 he moved his international helicopter operations and aerospace product development to Reno. Since moving to Reno, Mike has spent a considerable amount of time in the Air Race hangar as a volunteer for the STIHL National Championship Air Races.

“Mike brings with him extensive knowledge in the aviation and aerospace industry,” remarks Terry Matter. “He is very experienced working with the FAA and has an understanding of major modifications to airplanes and airplane flight safety requirements which will greatly contribute to the operations during race week.”

Tony Grady is a decorated Air Force command pilot and an experienced test pilot with over 5,000 flying hours in 40 different aircraft and has been flying since 1977. After retiring from the military in 1997, Tony was hired by FedEx as an MD-11 Captain, a DC-10 Second Officer and an MD-11 First Officer until he retired in December of 2017.

Owen has been a pylon judge at the STIHL National Championship Air Races since 2002 after serving as a Docent for Seattle’s Museum of Flight for over ten years. Over the years his position with the STIHL National Championship Air Races has shifted from Pylon Judge to Deputy Chief Pylon Judge and now Deputy Air Boss of the performers. He has extensive experience as an Air Boss including overseeing Seafair in Seattle.

“We are so grateful to have such experienced people in these Deputy Air Boss positions,” remarked Greg “Shifty” Peairs. “Owen is regarded as an expert Air Boss in the field as he has ensured compliance and safety for many other airshows around the country. Tony is a decorated retired veteran and experienced pilot, and we are thrilled to have his skills, aviation knowledge and attention to detail added to the Deputy Air Boss position.”

Tickets are on sale for the 55th annual STIHL National Championship Air Races held September 12-16, 2018 at Reno Stead Airport. For more information, tickets or to volunteer, visit


About the Reno Air Racing Association:

The Reno Air Racing Association (RARA), a 501(c)(3), holds the STIHL National Championship Air Races every September just north of Reno. The Reno Air Races have become an institution for northern Nevada and aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Independent economic impact studies have shown that our event generates as much as $91.7 million annually for our local economy. The event features six racing classes, a large display of static aircraft and several military and civilian flight demonstrations. For more information on the STIHL National Championship Air Races, to obtain media credentials, volunteer or purchase tickets for this year’s event, visit