Volunteer Spotlight — Bob Ross

This piece originally ran in the October 2020 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.

As an Emmy-winning senior vice president at CBS Broadcasting, Bob Ross, EAA 341315, knows a thing or two about putting on a show. When EAA Warbirds of America needed someone to run the audio/visual component of its awards ceremony banquet at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Bob was quite literally the perfect candidate.

Having attended Oshkosh since the 1980s, Bob, now retired, was merely an enthusiastic visitor until about 12 years ago. That’s when he was “volunteered” to assist with the Warbirds award ceremony when the person who had been volunteering in previous years wasn’t able to make it.

“They sent a search team out to find somebody that knew about Macintosh computers because the gentleman that was doing it sent his Mac stuff in, and they opened the box up and they didn’t know what a Macintosh was,” Bob said with a laugh. “They came over to me and said, ‘Bob, can you do us a favor?’ That was 12 years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Bob’s primary duties involve inputting thousands of warbird photos taken during the week into slideshow presentations that showcase the area during the awards ceremonies and, of course, assembling and administering the presentations.

“Over the course of the week, the photographers and myself take north of 3,000 photos,” Bob said. “I keep track of those photos by the N-numbers and that stuff. … It ends up being three presentations during the night of the banquet. It’s been a ball. I’ve had a great time. It’s a heck of a good group of people, all the Warbirds people.”

In addition, Bob’s wife, Elizabeth, and son, Joseph, have also volunteered in Warbirds — Joseph as a photographer and Elizabeth in Warbirds registration, making it truly a family affair. In the 12 years since he’s been involved with administering the Warbirds banquet presentations, Bob has gained an even greater appreciation for that section of the aviation community and has come to regard the folks he works with during the week as close friends.

“How can’t you be looking at the warbirds and not be impressed with all the work necessary [to restore and fly them]? When they came and asked me to help, it was a no-brainer. … There’s pressure, but it’s fun. The amount I’ve learned about warbirds has been phenomenal. Meeting some of the owners, working with various people. A big, cool family is what it is.”

Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit www.EAA.org/submissions.

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