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Women in Aviation

Women in Aviation

The Female Pepsi Skywriter

The field of aviation is still unarguably male dominated. However, more and more women are slowly starting to break into this field, and they are doing some pretty good work. Here’s the story of how Cpt. Suzanne Asbury-Oliver from Forest Grove in Oregon became a professional pilot and a famous Pepsi skywriter.

Suzanne’s History

Suzanne’s father had always dreamt about getting into aviation, but life took him down a different path, and he ended up going to medical school. However, when Susanne’s father was given a ride on a sailplane as a father’s day gift, he decided to take Suzanne with him. After the ride, he enthusiastically told Susanne about his love for flying and asked her to take aviation lessons. At 14 years of age, Suzanne started going for flying lessons and she had flown her first solo flight at the age of 15. By the time she was 18, she had her commercial certificate, her flight instructor certificate and her multi-engine rating as well as a number of other qualifications, making her a professional pilot.

The Pepsi Skywriter

The aviation industry took a big hit in the 1980s, and work was erratic. When Suzanne saw an advertisement looking for a skywriter for Pepsi, her interest was piqued. Although she was pretty sure, she was not going to get the job, she still applied for it. Her huge experience played a major role, and she managed to get the job and was immediately put onto the skywriting plane with the head skywriter at that time, Jack Strayer. On their first flight, he showed her how to write ‘Pepsi’ in the air. Suzanne picked up very quickly and after working under Strayer for a year, she got promoted to head skywriter. It was during this time that she met her husband, skywriter Steven Oliver, and they became America’s first skywriting couple.

Even though, skywriting isn’t very popular in today’s world, Pepsi Co. still uses it as a form of advertising. Asbury-Oliver has now logged over 5,500 hours of flying over America and Canada. She writes over 500 messages in the sky every year.

  1. Julie Oliver

    Always enjoy reading about the exploits of Steve and Suzanne.

    4 months ago
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