Major (Ret.) Brian Shul is one of the few pilots to fly the Air Force’s premier spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird. During the Vietnam conflict he flew 212 covert, close-air support missions in Laos and Cambodia. “That period of my flying career was a great educational experience,” Shul said. “I was there in midst of it…no name, no rank kind of stuff.” Then, April 11, 1974, his aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border and he was severely burned. He spent two months in the hospital and after 15 major surgeries, he was told he would never fly again … But he didn’t accept the diagnosis. Two days after being released from the hospital, Shul passed his flight physical and was returned to active flying duty.
Over the next few years, he flew various aircraft before applying to become an SR-71 pilot. His time flying the Blackbird was instrumental during the Libyan crisis in 1986, when he flew three mission providing critical intelligence. Shul retired having flown 12 different military aircraft and 5,000 hours in fighter jets.