updated 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
Chosen over 3,000 other applicants for the Pepsi-Cola Co. skywriting program in 1980, she has no home base and travels all over the country, living out of a suitcase. Last year she married another pilot, Steve Oliver, 36. They met in 1981 when both were working the Kentucky Derby—she plugging Pepsi, he towing assorted promotional banners. They now tour together, accompanied only by her part Beagle named Charlie Brown.
As a kid, Asbury-Oliver flew sailplanes with her father, a Forest Grove, Oreg. doctor. She soloed at 14, got her license to fly power planes at 16 and now holds an airline transport pilot's rating. Skywriting is tricky, she explains. Because her audience is on the ground looking up, she "must write a mirror image" of her message. She also has to watch the sun's position and the wind direction to keep her ad visible and prevent it from drifting away. Though she's survived two engine failures—by gliding in—she cites only one real crisis, which occurred one day over Chicago. Soon after she'd begun trailing vapor (created by dripping oil on the hot engine manifold), air control radioed that a 747 was headed her way. Terrified, Asbury-Oliver kept writing while watching for the jetliner. Only later did she realize she had encouraged Chicagoans to drink P-P-E-P-S-I.