Ron Scott of East Troy, Wisconsin, is known as
"Green One" and "Scotty" around EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
But no matter what you call him, he's the one who
keeps the Communications Center volunteers, more commonly called the Green Gang,
working together before and during the annual fly-in convention. This will be
his 48th year volunteering for EAA.
"Year after year, I threaten to retire, but
I keep coming back because it's like a reunion every year," Scott said.
"People come from all over the country."
Scott, who retired from AT&T, started
volunteering at the fly-in when it was still located in Rockford, Illinois.
"In those days, there were three volunteers,
and we had four radios and six speakers," he says. Today, there are about
60 volunteers and the PA system is one of the longest in the world.
In the early years, they used whatever equipment
they could find or borrow. Like in 1961, they started working with a World War
II vintage magneto field phone. "We ran the wire along the fence and
operated out of a tent," he says.
Scott recalled one time when he was digging a
hole to put the wire underground so people wouldn't trip in a walkway.
"Some guy just picked up a shovel and started helping. Then after a while
he looked at his watch and said, 'I gotta go. It's time for me to do the air
After they outgrew the tent in Rockford, they
upgraded to a trailer. Then, in the 1970s, they moved into a permanent building
in Oshkosh. It was expanded four times before the group moved into a new
building near air show central in 1991.
AirVenture is a place to meet folks and have a
great time, he said. But that doesn't mean the group doesn't work hard. They run
three shifts, and serve as an information center, public address system, and a
radio station broadcast online throughout the world. They also maintain their
own phone system on the flight line.
Still, they try to make the work fun.
"People take vacation to come here and volunteer. They won't come back if
they're not having fun doing what they are doing," Scott says. "The
only way we lose people is if they die."
To make volunteers feel appreciated, they host
get-togethers like a pizza party, or make pancakes each morning for the night
The Communications Center is one of the few areas
at AirVenture that volunteers need some knowledge about the job to help.
"We have one guy, Larry Mackowiak, who can make anything out of
everything," Scott said. "Others generously get equipment or refurbish
When AirVenture is over, Scott still manages to
keep busy, working as an EAA Technical Counselor and an EAA Flight Adviser.