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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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March 25, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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March 25, 2015
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, March 25, 2015 1B "1 knew her well. She gave way to no plane, proudly dragging her sonic boom through enemy backyards with great impunity." Brian Shul Motivational Speaker Retired U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot ..... ~.. :~i.::, larl " Graeagle Community Church officials and members welcome motivational speaker, photographer, author and Air Force veteran Brian Shul to Plumas County for his keynote speech March 14, From left" Dave Karau, Beverly Wolfe, Shul and Pastor Mike Preston. Photo by Ann Powers Former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Brian Shul says eagles are the "real flyers in life." Photo by Brian Shul Top, the SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest aircraft ever built. Photo by Brian Shul Former Air Force fighter pilot Brian Shul delivers an inspiring message of fearlessness to a packed crowd at the Graeagle Community Church on March 14. Photo by Ann Powers Ann Powers Staff Writer apowers@plumasnews.com ir Force veteran Brian Shul isn't joking --at first --' when he says he thought he died and went straight to hell after a fiery crash in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. "I was going doWn, my whole life flashed before me and I remember thinking it's all over," the former fighter pilot recalled. "At the last moment a very great calm came over me and I thought I would be going to heaven." However, when Shul awoke, he was surrounded by huge flames, thick smoke and intense heat and he was in extreme pain. "Maybe I went the wrong way," he chuckled, along with the approximately 150 audience members the motivational speaker addressed at the Graeagle Community Church on March 14. Interspersing humor and inspiration, Shul travels extensively on the speaker circuit delivering a message of "living fearlessly and embracing the opportunities each day brings." As a foreign air advisor in the Vietnam conflict, Shul flew 212 close air support missions in conjunction with Air America. Near the end of the war, his AT-28 aircraft was shot down close to the Cambodian border. Unable to eject from the aircraft, Shul, then 25, was forced to crash land. Initially given up for dead, he was severely burned in the ensuing fireball. He crawled from the wreckage and was eventually rescued by Special Forces. Over the next 12 months, he endured 15 surgeries, more pain, drastic weight loss and endless hours of physical therapy. Doctors didn't expect him to live -- much less take to the skies ever again. Fueled by steely determination, he said, Shul beat the odds and returned to active-duty flying. He became an air show demonstration pilot and a Top Gun instructor. The Air Force major culminated his military career by flying the SR-71 Blackbird. The top secret spy plane was, and still is, the world's fastest and highest-flying aircraft. "My first encounter with the SR-71 came when I was 10 years old in the form of molded black plastic in a (model airplane) kit," he INSTI'ILq E explained. "Twenty-nine in a Berlin disco, President years later, I stood awestruck Reagan ordered the bombing in a Beale Air Force Base of Muammar Qaddafi's hangar, star.ing at the very terrorist camps in Libya," real SR-71 before me. I had said Shul. "My duty was to applied to fly the world's fly over Libya and take fastest jet and was receiving photos recording the damage my first walk-around of our our F-111s had inflicted." nation's most prestigious After 20 years, Shul retired aircraft." from the Air Force in 1990. During his military tenure, "What does a retired Shul also mastered aerial fighter pilot do?" he asked. "I photography with the aid of shoot pansies now." highly sophisticated aircraft Really. No joke. and highly ranked elected Shul's latest photos feature officials, flowers, butterflies and birds. "In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers See Shul, page 13B