Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson recalls “very emotional” experience of flying RAF pilots home from Afghanistan

"We actually had to stop the airplane, because my co-pilot was welling up and so was I"

Bruce Dickinson – longtime frontman of Iron Maiden and qualified commercial pilot – has detailed his experience with Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots at a spoken-word show over the weekend.

Dickinson was onstage at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City on Saturday night (February 19), as part of his ongoing tour, entitled An Evening with Bruce Dickinson. In a segment of the show where he answered questions from fans, a former soldier enquired as to Dickinson’s most memorable flight with British soldiers.

The singer, as reported by Blabbermouth, answered the question by recalling a 2008 flight from Afghanistan, where he was bringing RAF pilots home to the UK.

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“We were the flying the Royal Air Force Regiment, which is RAF boots-on-the-ground soldiers, and they’d been to Afghanistan,” said Dickinson.

“They had taken some casualties and they had lost some people, but they were all really cheerful – the best passengers you could ever have in the military. As we were coming in to land, we stopped and we blew the reverse thrust.

“We were looking out, and all really close to the runway were families, kids, all the families and wives and everybody of all the soldiers, and they were all [holding signs, saying] ‘You’re my hero, daddy’ and everything else.”

Dickinson goes on to describe the experience as a “very emotional” one. “We actually had to stop the airplane, because my co-pilot was welling up and so was I,” he said.

“We were both trying not to [cry]. I went, ‘Okay, we’re gonna stop. We’re gonna blow our noses, make sure we can see where we’re going, and then do the job – because this is really exceptional.'”

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Watch fan-captured footage of Dickinson answering the question below:

Dickinson has been flying planes for nearly 30 years, having obtained his pilot’s license in the 90s. Alongside working with commercial airlines, Dickinson famously piloted Iron Maiden’s own private jet, Ed Force One – as captured by the 2009 documentary Iron Maiden: Flight 666.

Dickinson will return to North America later this year with his Iron Maiden bandmates for the ‘Legacy Of The Beast’ tour. He is also reportedly at work on his first solo album since 2005.

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