March 1, 2012
Scotland County Native Steve Oliver Receives Top Aviation Awards
Suzanne Asbury-Oliver and Steve Oliver, pictured here with their mascot Pax, recently were inducted into the International Council of Airshow (ICAS) Hall of Fame.
Steve Oliver, alumnus of Rutledge Grade School ('59) and Gorin High School ('63), and his wife Suzanne Asbury-Oliver, were inducted into the International Council of Airshow (ICAS) Hall of Fame in December 2011.
Every year, ICAS recognizes the industry's top performers. Recipients are nominated by their peers. To qualify, nominees must have made a contribution through showmanship, performance or innovation, and had a significant impact upon the air show industry. Following 32 years of flying together, the husband-and-wife aerobatic, pyrobatic and skywriting duo were honored to receive this award.
Following this recognition, The Olivers traveled to Hollywood, CA in January 2012, where they were honored at the "Living Legends of Aviation" sponsored by Learjet. It is often referred to as the Academy Awards of Aviation. The event featured a red-carpet parade followed by awards. The Living Legends of Aviation is a group of 70 remarkable individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to aviation.
The Olivers were in good company this year, with Captain Sully Sullenberger among those honored at the Beverly Hilton. Other past inductees include astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actors Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and the late Cliff Robertson.
"The Living Legends of Aviation is a prestigious honor," said Steve. "We are proud to be among this elite group of amazing individuals."
Steve began flying with his father, Gilvie, a Rutledge mail carrier, from their grass airstrip in their farm field when he was 12 years old. Steve decided on a career in aviation and moved to Kansas City after graduation and attended Aero Mechanics school to obtain his A&P mechanics license. During this time, he also began formal flying lessons. Eleven months later, he was a commercial rated flight instructor. He began towing banners and flying in air shows. While operating a one- plane, one-instructor flight school from a farmer's field in Bethany, MO, he enlisted in the Army and was trained as an Air Traffic Controller. He later served a tour in Vietnam in 1966-67.
In 1981, Steve met Suzanne Asbury, "The Pepsi Skywriter". The two married and flew Pepsi's original skywriter, a 1929 Travel Air Biplane, for 20 years. That plane, which had been Pepsi's Skywriter for six decades, now hangs on display from the ceiling of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Udvair-Hazy center at Dulles Airport.
Steve Oliver and Suzanne Asbury-Oliver in the Pepsi Skywriter.
Steve and Suzanne have had a very rewarding career together. Most important, they are doing something they love; receiving recognition is just an added bonus. In addition to the recent ICAS and Living Legends of Aviation honors, they also have received the ICAS Sword of Excellence and the Bill Barber Showmanship Award presented by World AirShow News.
Steve has flown over 12,000 hours and holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with flight instructor, single and multi-engine, land and seaplane, A&P mechanic and air traffic controller certifications. He and Suzanne continue to share the magic of flight with their air show and skywriting career with their famous pooch partner, Pax, by their side.
To learn more about Steve and his flying career, go to: www.Oregonaeroskydancer.com, www.Skywriting.info, www.Oliversflyingcircus.com