Brian Shul on piloting the SR-71

In this talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Vietnam-era attack pilot and retired Air Force major Brian Shul, author of “Sled Driver: Flying the World’s Fastest Jet,” reveals fascinating details of piloting the SR-71. Using his rare aviation slides and stories as a vehicle, he tells a broader inspired story of hope, overcoming obstacles and daring to dream.

Shul graduated from East Carolina University in 1970 with a degree in history and anthropology. After graduation, for the next 20 years he served as an Air Force fighter pilot. During the Vietnam War, he flew 212 close air support missions. During one of these missions, Shul was shot down near the Cambodian border and was unable to eject, so he was forced to fly his plane into the jungle. He was severely burned in the crash. Shul was rescued by Special Forces and endured one year in military hospitals where he underwent 15 surgical procedures and was told he would never fly again.

After much physical therapy, Shul miraculously returned to active duty flying. He flew the A-7D, was an instructor in the A-10 and went on to teach at the Air Force’s Top Gun School. He culminated his Air Force career by flying our nation’s top secret spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest aircraft ever built. He flew covert missions in the Blackbird for four years and was the pilot who provided President Reagan with detailed photos of Libyan terrorist camps in 1986. During that time, he became the only SR-71 pilot in history to fly three missions in three consecutive days.

Retiring from the Air Force in 1990, Shul pursued his writing and photography interests. He was the first pilot to write a book about flying the Blackbird, which is completely illustrated with his own photography. The book won Aviation Book of the Year honors and is today the single most popular book on that plane worldwide. He is also the only man to fly extensively with both the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds as a photojournalist. Learn more about Brian:

This talk was presented at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Nov. 15, 2016.

Brian Shul’s web site:

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