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Retired USAF fighter pilot Brian Shul to recount his inspiring story

LIVERMORE – Retired United States Air Force fighter pilot Brian Shul will share his inspiring story of triumph over tragedy at the Bankhead Theater on Tuesday, May 23.

Shot down during the Vietnam War, Shul was unable to eject and barely survived. He made a miraculous return to active duty and was selected to pilot the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, the fastest aircraft ever built. With breathtaking airborne images and his inspiring comeback story, Shul delivers an unforgettable message of achieving triumph over tragedy. Tickets to attend “Spy Pilot Chronicles” are $20 each.

Born in Quantico, Virginia, Shul graduated from East Carolina University in 1970 with a degree in History and immediately joined the Air Force, attending pilot training at Reese AFB in Texas. He served as a Foreign Air Advisor during the Viet Nam conflict. Near the end of all hostilities, Shul’s aircraft was shot down and, unable to eject from the aircraft, he was forced to crash land. Crawling from the burning wreckage, he was finally found and rescued by a Special Forces team but was not expected to survive his injuries.

After a year in military hospitals, 15 reconstructive surgeries and months of physical therapy, Shul made a phenomenal recovery and was cleared to return to active duty. He went on to fly the A-7D, was an airshow demonstration pilot in the A-10 squadron, and served as an A-10 instructor pilot in Arizona, going on to instruct at the Air Force's Fighter Lead-In School as the Chief of Air-to-Ground Academics.

As a final assignment, Shul volunteered and was selected to pilot the Top Secret SR-71 Blackbird. The only SR-71 pilot in history to fly three missions on three consecutive days, he provided key reconnaissance photos to President Reagan during the Libyan Crisis in 1986. Shul  is a Spirit of Freedom Award winner and a recipient of the prestigious Crystal Eagle Award.

Since his retirement from the Air Force in 1990, Shul has pursued his writing and photographic interests, bringing them together in five books as well as magazines and other publications. “Sled Driver,” his first-person account of flying the SR-71, was the first and remains the best known book on that aircraft. He has also published books about America's air demonstration teams, the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels, filled with his spectacular aerial photography.


Brian Shul’s story is unique and he has been asked to speak at numerous functions nationwide on his experiences, including at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories last fall. His remarkable comeback story and breathtaking images offer an inspiring message of triumph over tragedy in an unforgettable manner. Shul’s talk reveals that even in the face of great obstacles, success on a grand scale can be achieved through simple choices, a positive attitude, and maintaining a healthy sense of humor.



Event:            Brian Shul “Spy Pilot Chronicles”

Date/Time:    Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Venue:           Bankhead Theater, 2400 First Street, Livermore

Cost:              $20 all seats


Tickets:         visit or call 925-383-6800