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I Spied on Russia and Korea from the World's Fastest Plane

I Spied on Russia and Korea from the World s Fastest Plane VICE United States

I Spied on Russia and Korea from the World s Fastest Plane VICE United States


Flying near the Cambodian border in 1974, US Air Force Major Brian Shul's plane was shot out of the sky. Unable to eject safely he was forced to crash land in the middle of the jungle. Miraculously, he survived the impact, but was left with severe burns and told he'd never fly again. However, instead of retiring from the military he underwent physical therapy and returned to his job, where he trained to fly the SR-71 spy plane, otherwise known as the "Blackbird."

Designed in the aftermath of the 1960 U-2 incident—in which American pilot Gary Powers was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet airspace—the Blackbird was pegged as the plane that couldn't be hit. Retired from use in 1999, it was never struck by enemy missiles and still holds the official air speed record for a manned jet aircraft, flying at over three times the speed of sound.

Along with his copilot Walter Watson, Brian flew numerous reconnaissance missions from the UK and Okinawa in the Blackbird, including an operation over Libya that preceded Ronald Reagan's 1986 bombing of Tripoli and the Benghazi region. Brian's now a photographer and the author of ​a number of books about the Blackbird, so as this year is the 60th anniversary of the plane's first flight I thought I'd call him up for some of his stories.

Stashed in: intel, NK, Russia

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