Friday, June 2, 2023
Brian Shul died. You may not know the name, but you know the stories. He flew the SR-71 Blackbird. He’s the guy that outran the missiles over Libya. You can catch his talk on YouTube. Phenomenal stuff. Yes, the stuff of legend.
I remember when Jimmy Carter revealed we had such a plane. it crossed the continental U.S. in two hours, flew to Europe, overshot its landing and turned around over five countries.
I heard two stories about the Blackbird that weren’t Brian’s. They were told to me by a person whom I’m not sure I can believe the veracity of anything they say, but wow – if true. One was the Chicago tower being asked for permission to pass through their air space at 50,000 feet. O’Hare said it was all theirs at that height. One blip and they were gone. That’s the time it took. The radar made one 360 rotation and picked up the plane once. The other story was when Denver airport got a request for immediate landing from a Blackbird. The plane had a double flame out and was gliding into Denver. They got permission but the tower said they didn’t see them on their scopes and asked the plane’s current location.
“Alaska.” On a glide path to Denver.
Brian’s stories were just as good. The time he buzzed a commercial airport tower. The time his navigator called in for an airspeed and altitude check because a bunch of Air Force jocks were calling into the tower to show off their speed. There was silence on the air after that.
The time he had the radars pop up off Russia and the tracking radar locked on. “Too bad they didn’t shoot,” said his boss. “We would gotten some really good data.”
Ah the stuff of legend and myth. Brian has a book of pictures of the SR-71. It goes for about $300. It would normally be a book you could pick up at the discount rack at Barnes and Noble for $9.98, but you can’t. The pictures are terrific. The one of the plane in the air with fuel running off its wings – wow. If you’ve seen pictures of the Blackbird they are probably Brian’s. Not many photos exist. It was forbidden to take photos most of the time.
We don’t have many heroes these days. Brian was one of them.
Ground Speed Check: (5 minutes)
Buzzing the tower: (5 minutes)
The whole talk: (1 hour)
Note: The price of the book is now $900.00