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Feb 1, 2023

This is the second week and second part of our most downloaded episode of the OldGuyTalksToMe Podcast. In this episode, I talked with Brian Shul, pilot of the world's Fastest Airplane, the SR 71, and a retired major in the United States Air Force (USAF).


He flew 212 combat missions and was shot down near the end of the war. He was so severely burned that he was given no chance to live. Surviving, he returned to full flight status, flying the SR-71 Blackbird.

Major Shul completed a 20-year career in the Air Force. After 20 years and 5000 hours in fighter jets, Shul retired from the Air Force in 1990 and went on to pursue his writing and photographic interests.

He has written four books on aviation and runs a photo studio in Marysville, California.

Near the end of hostilities in 1973, his T-28 aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of the Cambodian border. Recovery from the burns took several months and 15 major operations.

Physicians told him he'd never fly again. Months of physical therapy followed, enabling Shul to pass a physical flight and return to active flying duty.


Two days after being released from the hospital, Shul was flying Air Force fighter jet aircraft.

Shul volunteered for and was selected to fly the SR-71. This assignment required an astronaut-type physical just to qualify, and Shul passed without waivers.

Shul's comeback story has been the subject of numerous magazine articles conscious and teaching them how to survive such incidents better.

In addition to running his own photo studio in northern California, he has authored seven books on flying and flight photography.

His first two books (Sled Driver: Flying The World's Fastest Jet and The Untouchables) are about flying the SR-71 Blackbird and give the reader a first-hand account of being in the cockpit of the world's fastest jet.


A bit about me (Dr. Orest Komarnyckyj)

Dr. Orest Komarnyckyj enjoyed a prestigious career as a periodontal regenerative surgeon moving to a new passion in June 2018. He retired after a 33-year career to pursue new passions. At 70 Dr. Orest has taken on a new role as an Interviewer, Podcaster, and government-certified Old Guy. He streams from his new home in Las Vegas, NV. He lives with his wife of 30 years, Oksana. His status as an empty-nester with two college-employed children has left him with time and energy to share decades of successes, failures, and wisdom.


Order Brian Shul’s book at 




00:00 - Precap

00:49 - Intro

01:59 - Golden oldie episode

02:39 - Hitting an enemy missile

05:20 - Russians hated SR71

06:27 - History behind the allied speed story

09:17 - What’s going on now? How do you find today’s jet?

11:23 - Private company taking people to space

12:58 - What do you do for fun today?

13:37 - Commercial Starts

14:09 - Commercial Ends

14:11 - Got into shooting nature stuff

14:34 - Men don’t fly, birds fly

16:55 - How many books have you written?

19:45 - Working on my bird book now

20:35 - Did enough flying to scare me

21:47 - I make living as a speaker today

22:32 - Order book at 

23:14 - Closing thoughts

24:05 - Outro