Episode 15: Brian Shul talks about piloting the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane
Published July 5, 2016
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58 min
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    Brian Shul speaks softly and carries a big stick. The American war hero every bit worthy of Roosevelt’s words flew 212 missions in the Vietnam War before his nearly fatal crash. With his body severely burned, Shul was in so much pain that he wanted to die.

    Then one day, lying in his hospital bed, he heard children playing soccer and the voice of Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” on the radio. Suddenly, Shul, at 25-years-old, realized he had a lot to live for. He set himself on a determined road of recovery that would span 15 reconstructive surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy.

    Shul eventually turned his amazing story of survival into his greatest strength, and he went on to be one of fewer than 100 people to pilot the SR-71 Blackbird, a U.S. spy plane largely operational during the Cold War and thereafter.

    Shul and flight engineer Walter Watson flew multiple missions in which they escaped missiles over enemy territory including the Soviet Union and Libya, gathering footage and information that would help the U.S. win the Cold War.

    Unlike other STEM-Talk guests, Shul is neither engineer nor scientist, but he piloted and knew intimately of one of the greatest feats of both. The plane went 3,400 feet per second, which is faster than most bullets and is the speed of traveling between LA and D.C. in an hour and four minutes.

    For more information on Brian Shul, visit his Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Shul. Also, check out the YouTube video of his IHMC lecture, “From Butterflies to Blackbirds,” which has had more than 180,000 viewers:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kIMTJRgyn0.

    Shul is also the author of Sled Driver: The World’s Fastest Jet: http://tinyurl.com/huaygdc and The Untouchables: http://tinyurl.com/h6vua5w. Here is a link to Shul’s recently opened photo gallery in Marysville, California: https://galleryonepublishing.com/sleddriver/galleryone.html
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