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Brian Shul, SR-71 Pilot

The staff at the Norton Air Force Base Museum are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Brian Shul, a friend of the NAFBM. Brian conducted a few presentations about his life as an SR-71 pilot, selling out both presentations.

From Wikipedia, Brian Shul (8 February 1948 – 20 May 2023) was an American pilot and photographer. A Vietnam War-era attack pilot and a 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 badly burned that he was given next to 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. He wrote four books on aviation and ran a photo studio in Marysville, California, until his death in Reno, Nevada.

We are sure he is flying higher and faster than any SR-71 could go. Our condolences to his family.

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History of
Norton Air Force Base

Norton Air Force Base (1942–1994) was a United States Air Force facility located in San Bernardino, California, in San Bernardino County.

For the majority of its operational lifetime, Norton was a logistics depot and heavy-lift transport facility for a variety of military aircraft, equipment, and supplies as part of Air Materiel/Air Force Logistics Command (1946–1966), then as part of Military Airlift/Air Mobility Command (1966–1994).

Norton Air Force
Base Museum

This mission of the Norton AFB Museum is to preserve, honor, and promote the history of the Norton Air Force Base.

Remembering Captain Leland F. Norton

On May 27, 1944, Captain Norton was flying his sixteenth combat mission in a Havoc  A-20 attack bomber with a crew of three: two gunners and a bombardier.  They were attacking a German railroad yard near Amiens, France.  During the mission, Norton’s bomber was struck by antiaircraft fire.  He was wounded but ordered his crew to bail out and he, along with the bombardier, stayed at the controls to ensure their safe evacuation.


By this time the aircraft was coming apart, but Norton and his bombardier parachuted.  All four of the men made it to the ground.  But in one of those wartime tragedies, Norton and the bombardier were killed by bombs from the aircraft as it crashed near them.  Norton’s mother was working at the base when she was told the news.


Under General Dwight Eisenhower, the invasion of France began June 6, 1944.  His idea of bombing the railroad yards made it impossible for German reinforcements during or after the invasion.


Among the awards received by Norton was the Purple Heart, posthumously, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest Army Air Force Award.   He was buried in France but in 1947 his parents went to France and brought him home.  He now rests with his parents in Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, CA.


On March 2, 1950, the former San Bernardino Air Depot was named in honor of Leland F. Norton.  As we approach Memorial Day, 2023, it seems appropriate to remember all veterans and the words on the memorial plaque commemorating Norton’s service:

“A patriot who dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings.  Freedom lives; and through it he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”

Buy A Brick

Norton Air Force Museum is continuing the sale of Memorial bricks to be placed around the Veterans monument.

Gift Shop

To commemorate and support the Norton Air Force Base Museum, we have many items to purchase in our Gift Shop.

Come to Events

Throughout the year, the Norton Air Force Base Museum participates and holds special events to help commemorate the NAFB.

Direct Donation

Please join us in celebrating, educating and preserving the memory of the 63rd Airlift Wing at Norton Air Force Base.

Ways To Help Support The Museum


Most any Aircraft





Call the museum

@ 909-382-7307

For Availability and Pricing

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