Bruce Dickinson Flew British Soldiers Back Home From Afghanistan
The musician told the emotional story during his Feb. 19 spoken word show at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo., as part of the English entertainer's ongoing An Evening With Bruce Dickinson 2022 tour, currently crisscrossing the U.S. and Canada. See the remaining tour dates and get tickets here.
Dickinson said, "One of the jobs that we had at the airline I worked for, we had an airplane permanently allocated to the military to go and take people places. Not to wars, but we'd take them to bases. Sometimes we flew people back." (via Blabbermouth)
"We flew people back who had been in Afghanistan … been in a war," the rocker continued. "They would go somewhere for two or three weeks to try and readjust and then we'd take them back. One particular flight, we were flying the Royal Air Force Regiment, which is boots-on-the-ground soldiers. … It was an unusual flight because we were returning them to their actual home base, not to a military airfield."
Dickinson added, "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. … So as we were coming in to land, we stopped and we blew the reverse thrust. I had a female co-pilot, first officer. 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. They were all [holding signs saying], 'You're my hero, Daddy,' and everything else. It was very emotional. We actually had to stop the airplane because my co-pilot was welling up. … We were both trying not to [cry]."
The Iron Maiden vocalist has done a lot as an aviator, including piloting the veteran metal band's Ed Force One jetliner and working as a commercial pilot for defunct charter company Astraeus Airlines. But perhaps nothing could have prepared him for this flight.
"I went, 'OK, we're gonna stop. We're gonna blow our noses, make sure we can fucking see where we're going, and then do the job,'" Dickinson recalled. "This is really exceptional. The last thing you wanna do is go, 'It was so emotional, we ended up in a fucking ditch.' So we dropped them off and that was it. That was one of the more memorable flights."
Dickinson, a cancer survivor, has shared much during these engagements. He recently named his favorite female singer, guessed Maiden's most underrated song and revealed ideas for a new solo album. In January, he spoke to Loudwire about his 2022 plans.
Watch Dickinson tell his Royal Air Force story below.