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Brian Shul, speaker

Brian Shul

    • Recipient of the Purple Heart medal
    • Retired Military Pilot
Full Bio
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Brian Shul Speaker Biography

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.

His first two books are about flying the SR-71 Blackbird. Written in a very non-technical style, these books give the reader a first-hand account of being in the cockpit of the world’s fastest jet throughout a variety of interesting missions. The books are filled with stunning photos from the author’s personal collection and have become the most popular SR-71 books ever done. Brian’s third and fourth books are about America’s air demonstration teams, the Air Force Thunderbirds, and the Navy Blue Angels. Again filled with unique aerial images, these books take the reader into the dynamic formations of these world famous teams. Brian is now the only man in America to have flown with both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels extensively as a guest in the making of his colorful books. His fifth book is a special remake of his original SR-71 book, entitled Sled Driver, issued in a very richly crafted Limited Edition of only 3680 copies to commemorate the Centennial of Flight in 2003.

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.

Brian was recently honored as an Outstanding Alumni from East Carolina University. He owns Gallery One, a photo studio in northern California, and divides his time between writing, photography, public speaking, and backpacking in the high Sierras.

For more information on Brian Shul, please contact Executive Speakers Bureau 901.754.9404.


A highly motivating, humorous, and fascinating talk tailored for any audience at any occasion. The most often delivered of Mr. Shul's three talks, and the most popular for general audiences, there is none other like it in America today. Covers some of Mr. Shul's experiences from lying near death on a jungle floor in Viet Nam, to flying the world's fastest jet, the SR-71. He also talks about his present-day photography and the books he has authored. Coupled with Mr. Shul's breathtaking slides taken in flight, and his philosophical views on life, this is an unforgettable presentation for all in attendance. Most recently, Brian has given a series of "Patriotic Talks" following the Sept 11th, 2001 attack on this nation. From the FBI Academy to church groups, to business corporations, Mr. Shul has stood by his claim that, "If this is not the best presentation your group has had, I will refund my fee."



Mr. Shul recounts his experience of being shot down in Viet Nam and his subsequent rescue. Emphasized are lessons learned concerning equipment, training, and preparation. He talks about the mindset of flying safe and challenges the audience with his penetrating rhetorical questions. Covers some stories from his one-year of hospitalization. Filled with humor and riveting anecdotes, this talk makes safety meetings fun, yet delivers a most important message. A safety presentation people remember for a long time. A filmed version of this talk was mandatory viewing by every U.S. Air Force fighter pilot for nearly 15 years. Recently delivered to NASA Space Center astronauts and technicians.



Brian Shul spent one year in military hospitals recovering from his burn injuries. He endured 15 major operations, countless hours of physical therapy, and miraculously returned to flying fighter jets with the Air Force just two days after his release. His story of what it is like to be a burn patient is one that every nurse and doctor should hear. His patient's perspective is one that is seldom heard, yet needs to be, at a time when patient care and sensitivity are such a priority. The presentation is normally given to medical groups, such as nursing schools, surgical conventions, or group hospital staff meetings. This is a one-of-a-kind presentation that goes to the heart of patient care. You will laugh, and you will cry, and you will never look at a critical care patient the same again. This talk can also be tailored to fit a classroom or a seminar format up to three hours in length.

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