It’s no secret that Brian Shul likes speed.
The retired Air Force pilot once flew the SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest — and perhaps most classified — aircraft.
But even for a guy who’s flown more than three times the speed of sound, some things, like a cure for pancreatic cancer, can’t come fast enough.
Shul, who lost both his mother and brother to pancreatic cancer, was the keynote speaker at a special Wings of Hope fundraiser on April 25 at The Wildlife Experience in Parker, organized by his sister, Maureen Shul, the former mayor of Castle Pines.
One of only 93 men to fly the mysterious black plane know as “the sled,” Shul shared his inspiring story of being shot down in Vietnam.
Badly burned, Shul was hospitalized for nearly two years, only to come back to pilot the world’s fastest and highest-flying aircraft ever built.
Shul also shared what he describes as one of the rarest collections of SR-71 photographs in the world.
“I always had my little camera with me,” he said. “Now most people would think you couldn’t take a camera along on a top-secret mission, but I dug into the Air Force regulations and it never said I could — but it also never said I couldn’t.”
Shul’s collection, mostly film, is the foundation for his book, “Sled Driver,” which is one the most authoritative publications on the plane. The book was on sale at the event, with proceeds from it, as well as some of his photos, going to Wings of Hope.
“Our goal is to help raise awareness and research dollars for pancreatic cancer,” Maureen Shul told the crowd of more than 300. “My family was stunned as to how little there was in the way of early diagnostic testing for pancreatic cancer. Just as shocking, the five-year survival rate has remained at just 6 percent for the last 40 years.”
Wings of Hope has partnered with the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, to develop a national leading academic pancreatic cancer research program. Located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, the goal is to become the regional hub and national destination for pancreatic cancer research.
One hundred percent of donations go directly to fund research, Maureen Shul said.
For more information about
Wings of Hope, visit www.wingsofhopepcr.org.
To learn more about Brian Shul and his photography, visit www.sleddriver.com.