September 8, 2009
By Sarah Brown
Air Force fighter pilot Brian Shul was flying close air support missions in Vietnam when his aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border. He sustained severe burn injuries in the crash and was told his flying days were over, but Shul returned to flying jets two days after his release from the hospital and went on to become one of a select group of pilots to fly the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.
Now, Shul will share his story of triumphing over the odds at AOPA Aviation Summit Nov. 5 through 7, in Tampa, Fla. Hear how Shul came back from his injuries to fly an aircraft capable of reaching speeds greater than Mach 3.2 and flying at 85,000 feet at his "Speed of Life" seminar, held Friday and Saturday at Summit.
“The SR-71 Blackbird was the most remarkable aircraft of the twentieth century,” Shul said. “I feel privileged to have been one of only 93 men to have flown it. From laying near death in the jungles of Vietnam, to flying the world’s fastest jet, I’ve been truly blessed and look forward to sharing my stories and images with the fine folks at AOPA.”
Shul was an Air Force fighter pilot for 20 years. After his AT-28 was shot down in Vietnam, he spent a year in the hospital and endured 15 surgical operations; then he returned to active flying duty. He was in the first operational A-10 squadron; taught at the Air Force's fighter lead-in school; flew as an airshow demonstration pilot; and culminated his Air Force career by flying the SR-71. He passed the required astronaut-type physical with no waivers.
After retiring from the Air Force, Shul wrote about his flying experiences. His book Sled Driver is about flying the SR-71, and he also wrote books about the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. He is speaking at Summit courtesy of Data Transformation Corporation ( DTC). Find out more at AOPA Aviation Summit, Nov. 5 through 7, in Tampa, Fla. Register today!
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