Livermore: Spy plane pilot, navigator to share experiences

Engaging speakers to tell war stories and more

Air Force pilot Brian Shul, one of the few elite to fly the legendary SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, will share his experiences at 7:30 p.m. April 10 at the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore. He will be accompanied by navigator Walt Watson.

Shul was shot down in the Vietnam War and severely burned in the ensuing crash. Initially given up for dead, he was finally rescued and spent a year in hospitals, endured 15 surgeries and was told his flying days were over.

After months of physical therapy, Shul made a miraculous return to active duty flying and later served as a flight instructor. He became one of only 93 men in history to fly the top secret SR-71 and was the only Blackbird pilot to fly three missions on three consecutive days. Shul is a Spirit of Freedom Award winner and a recipient of the prestigious Crystal Eagle Award.

Today, Shul combines aviation slides and engaging stories to deliver a message of hope, overcoming obstacles, and daring to dream. He has published five books including "Sled Driver," a personal account of flying the SR-71, as well as "The Untouchables," co-authored by navigator Watson with whom Shul flew spy missions for four years.

Shul and Watson are also known for their "L.A. Speed Story," recalling when they were screaming across Southern California in the SR-71, 13 miles high. The two were monitoring radio transmissions as other aircraft asked for their speeds in the Los Angeles airspace, receiving replies of 90 knots, 120 knots and, for a smug F-18, 620 knots. Watson could not resist radioing for their speed, which -- after a long pause -- was duly reported as 1,942.

Tickets for the talk are $20-$30. Call 373-6800, visit, or go to the box office, 2400 First St., Livermore. A book-signing will follow the presentation.

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