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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Leland (Chip) Shanle

Friday's Fabulous Flyer:

Leland "Chip" Shanle Jr; 
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret).

"I'm one of the lucky few; my occupation is my passion. A few years ago I was flying a training mission at twilight off the coast of Southern California. The Hale-Bopp comet was blazing overhead. I decided to get a better look; dumping the nose of my F-4N Phantom II, I held it at zero g as I shoved the throttles to full afterburner. With no induced drag on the aircraft, the J79-GE-8 engines very quickly pushed the jet supersonic. Leveling at 35,000, its best energy addition altitude, I let the Phantom run up to 1.5 Mach and then began a climb.

Burying the needle of the VSI above it's 6,000 feet per minute climb limit, the Phantom ascended toward the peeking stars. I should have leveled at 50,000 feet, the limit without a pressure suit, but I didn't.

Above me the stars were coming alive for the night, below me was the ocean, glistening in the pastel color of a sun just set. Glancing to the east, the coast and San Diego; the city's lights brighter than the emerging stars. To the west the curvature of the earth was accentuated by the dark ocean against back lit sky.

Finally I looked up to the moon and watched as the Hale-Bopp Comet streaked the sky, just below it. I wondered how I could share this; and some of the other amazing and horrific things I've seen in a life of aviation. I have since tried through: film, video, and mostly the written word."

"I grew up in an Aviation family: my Grandfather returned from the trenches of France after WWI and some how ended up managing Yellow Cab Airline in the 20s. It had a single city pair DSM-MSP. His two sons (Bill+Bob) flew as Aircrewman in the Korean conflict. Bob went on to pilot training and flew AC-119 Gunships in Viet Nam and commanded a B-52 squadron during the Cold War. The other side of my family was Navy; my Uncle Larry flew AD-1 Skyraiders in Viet Nam (and family legend has it he flew unmarked AD-1s in the Bay of Pigs). He returned home in 1966 and was killed in the reserves just a few weeks later, flying an S-2F Tracker. I followed him into Naval Flight training in 1982."

Chip is an accomplished and award winning writer (MWSA Gold Award for Historical Fiction 2012) in both fiction and non-fiction. He is a contributing Editor to Airways Magazine, and has published articles in other periodicals as well. Chip has also written screenplays for major motion pictures as well as television. His company Broken Wing was featured in Discovery's Curiosity Series Documentary: PLANE CRASH.

He is a member of The Society of Authors in the United Kingdom and the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) in the United States. He has remained an active member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Project 7 Alpha, his first novel, received the GOLD AWARD in Historical Fiction 2012 from The Military Writers Society of America. 7A was published in 2008 (Kindle 2012) by Pen+Sword.


Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal,is the second book in the Aviator Series. And he is hard at work finishing his fourth; A Race With Infamy.

Historical fiction continues to be his passion and he pursues it further with, ENDGAME in the Pacific, his third novel in a TRILOGY set in WWII. 

Chip has also been an aviation/military technical adviser on 5 major motion pictures (Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, xXx, The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth) and a television series pilot (not yet announced). His production company, Broken Wing LLC, is featured in Discovery's Curiosity Documentary: Plane Crash; in the USA, Channel 4 in the UK and Prosieben in Germany.

A rare author that has actually lived the passion he writes about; Chip is a retired Naval Aviator and continues to fly with American Airlines and as an active Test Pilot. He also flies for fun with his kids, in his 1967 Beech-Craft Musketeer.

Chip received his Masters from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and also graduated from the Naval War College CCE. Studying and writing about historical battles laid the foundation for his novels.

Born and raised in St. Louis Missouri, he attended Chaminade College Prep Class of 1977. After High School he joined Naval ROTC at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Upon graduation in December of 1981, he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. A month later he married Laura L Cantrell and they set out on their Navy adventure together.

He flew 16 different naval aircraft in 10 squadrons; including the F-4 Phantom II, EA-6B Prowler and TA-4J Skyhawk. Attached to CAG (Air Wing) 5, 11 and 1 He cruised on the USS Midway, America and Lincoln. Chip flew 80 missions over the war torn skies of Bosnia, Somalia, and Iraq. An Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor; he has flown numerous civilian types from the Cessna 150 to the Boeing 767-300. Currently he is rated in 767, 757, 727, MD-80 and Sabreliner series aircraft.

Chip got into the flight test world in 1995 when he transferred to VX-30, Naval Weapons Test Center Point Mugu. He flew as a Project Officer on various test programs and was the Squadron Operations Officer. Chip also attended the Project Officer/Engineers and the Out of Control Flight (spin school) courses at National Test Pilot School. In 1998 he was inducted as a Full Member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

Closing out his Naval Aviation career in 1998 with 600 carrier landings (200 night) on 11 different carriers; Chip, Laura and their 4 kids moved back to St. Louis. Once settled in at American Airlines, he concentrated on his writing.

I wrote my first novel for my children, who have all at one time or another expressed interest in flying. I snuck a few lessons in the story line. My two oldest sons (Leland+David) are currently in flight training, my daughter Kaitlyn has taken lessons with me and my youngest son William wants to fly fighters. Leland and David are both veterans; Leland is Army Infantry, his brother David a Crew Chief on the B-2 and currently an alternate for a pilot slot in the KC-135. They are fourth generation in the family business.

An amazing man with many great adventures. 
Time to go shopping for some Historical Fiction Novels.

You can find Chip at:  
Thank you for sharing your story Chip
I hope your current and future generations 
keep on flying strong!  

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Karlene, Great post! Thanks for sharing another Friday Fabulous Flyer. A definite addition to my must read list.

  2. Awesome. I've probably flown in an an airplane piloted by Chip (after several million miles on AA - living in Dallas you tend to fly one airline a lot), and have hundreds of Musketeer/Sundowner hours. Unfortunately no F-4 time, not with my eyes. I just bought all three WW2 books for my kindle :)

    1. You know, this aviation industry is a small world. I'm sure you have. It amazes me how many times paths cross and we might not know it.

    2. I'm halfway through "Project 7 Alpha" - love it! I feel like I'm almost type rated on the DC-3/C-47 now!

    3. Okay... I need a type rating on a DC-3! This is on the top of my reading...after my crazy month. Thanks for your comment!

  3. What an awesome gentleman/pilot and I love the opening description of this post. I wish I was up there to experience it. I was unaware of his literary and written contributions and of his novels. I will definitely have to check these out. Have a great weekend everyone!

    1. I love the opening too. Actually... he wrote that to me in an email. I had to add it as it was so inspiring. Thank you so much for your comment!

  4. Chip, it's great to read about you and we are looking forward to you being on the Blogging in Formation team!

    1. Thanks Brent! I'm looking forward to his writing too!

  5. Great show, Chip Shanle, Jr. Maybe that you'll be interested of replacing the retired Robert Jordan by co-anchoring with Jackie Bange on the WGN Weekend News.


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