April 21 & 22 District Celebration


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Brian Shul


Brian Shul was born in Quantico, Virginia, in 1948. He graduated from East Carolina University in 1970 with a degree in History. That same year he joined the Air Force and attended pilot training at Reese AFB in Texas. Brian served as a Foreign Air Advisor in the Viet Nam conflict, flying 212 close air support missions in conjunction with Air America.

Near the end of all hostilities, his AT-28 aircraft was shot down near the Cambodian border. Unable to eject from the aircraft, Brian was forced to crash land into the jungle. Miraculously surviving, he was severely burned in the ensuing fireball. Crawling from the burning wreckage, he was finally found and rescued by a Special Forces team. He was evacuated to a military hospital in Okinawa where he was expected to die. Barely surviving 2 months of intensive care, in 1974 he was flown to the Institute of Surgical Research at Ft Sam Houston, Texas. During the following year, he underwent 15 major operations. During this time he was told he’d never fly again and just lucky to be alive. Months of physical therapy followed, enabling Brian to eventually pass a flight physical and return to active flying duty.

Two days after being released from the hospital, Brian was back flying Air Force fighter jet aircraft. He went on to fly the A-7D and was then selected to be a part of the first operational A-10 squadron at Myrtle Beach, SC, where he was on the first A-10 air show demonstration team. After a tour as an A-10 Instructor Pilot in Arizona, he went on to instruct at the Air Force’s Fighter Lead-In School as the Chief of Air-to-Ground Academics. As a final assignment in his career, Brian volunteered for and was selected to fly the super secret spy plane, the SR-71. This assignment required an astronaut type physical just to qualify, and Brian passed with no waivers.

Brian’s phenomenal comeback story from laying near dead in the jungle of Southeast Asia, to later flying the world’s fastest, highest flying jet, has been the subject of numerous magazine articles and an inspiration to many.

After 20 years and 5000 hours in fighter jets, Brian retired from the Air Force in 1990. He went on to pursue his writing and photographic interests. In addition to running his own photo studio in northern California, he has authored five books on flying, for which he did all the writing and photography. Brian’s story is unique, and he has been asked to speak at numerous functions nationwide on his varied experiences. His entertaining slide show and dynamic message make for an unforgettable presentation. He has been the featured speaker for medical groups, aviation safety seminars, and air museum programs, and frequently has been a motivational keynote speaker for a variety of corporations across America. Most recently his patriotic talks concerning terrorist attacks against America have received national acclaim.