Bruce Dickinson is a man of many talents. No, not “The” Bruce Dickinson…
… But the real-life Bruce Dickinson, the hoodie-wearing frontman from Iron Maiden.
— BLABBERMOUTH.NET (@BLABBERMOUTHNET) March 31, 2016
You know him mostly for his vocal talents, but there’s more to him than just that. For example, did you know he was at one point a competitive fencer who placed 7th in Great Britain? Or that he founded a fencing equipment company by the name Duellist? The company has since changed ownership and you won’t find a company by that name anymore, but he was the one that gave it its start.
Dickinson is an author, who penned his first novel in 1986-87 during an Iron Maiden tour and in the wake of a divorce. According to Professor Wikipedia, Dickinson’s first book, The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace was published in 1990 by Sidgwick & Jackson, who apparently agreed to release the book without reading it based on Iron Maiden’s success alone. The gamble paid off, and the book sold more than 40,000 copies almost immediately. Due to that, Dickinson was asked for a sequel, to which he responded with 1992’s The Missionary Position. He hasn’t written any more books since then, but has worked on a little scriptwriting. Also, Dickinson’s memoirs are expected to be published sometime in 2017.
A little more well known is Dickinson’s (and the rest of Iron Maiden‘s) involvement in beer brewing. The band collaborated with Robinson’s Brewery in Stockport, England, to create Trooper, which has since become Robinson’s biggest-selling export. Dickinson plans to continue making beers, but under the Trooper name as opposed to Iron Maidens, as he has said that many people drink the beer because they enjoy it, not because they’re Iron Maiden fans.
— Iron Maiden (@IronMaiden) March 29, 2016
In addition to all of this, Dickinson has worked as a radio presenter, running a weekly show on BBC Radio 6 Music from 2002 to 2010, and also hosted a series called Masters of Rock on BBC 2 from 2003 to 2007. He was the host of a 5-part historical aviation series called Flying Heavy Metal, which incorporated his love for flying – something we’ll get to in a second here. He’s also made a number of one-off and guest appearances on various shows. But probably the biggest thing that he’s known for, aside from Iron Maiden of course, is being a pilot. He learned to fly in the 1990’s in Florida, and holds an airline transport pilot’s license. He flew for the now defunct UK airline Astraeus for years, regularly flying Boeing 757s as a captain. When Astraeus folded, Dickinson formed his own company, Cardiff Aviation in 2012. His work as a pilot has led him to be involved in a number of high-profile flights, which are detailed on his Wikipedia page.
In recent years, Dickinson has acted as Iron Maiden‘s own personal pilot, starting on the 2008-2009 “Somewhere Back In time World Tour,” where he flew a 757 that was specially outfitted to carry all of the band’s gear, and dubbed Ed Force One. That led to a film you may have seen, if you’re a big fan: Iron Maiden: Flight 666. Dickinson flew Ed Force One again for the 2011 “The Final Frontier World Tour.” For the current “The Book of Souls World Tour,” the band upgraded to a bigger 747, which meant that Dickinson had to undergo further training in order to fly it. Very recently (less than a month ago), Ed Force One was pretty badly damaged in a ground incident in Santiago, Chile. The incident left the band scrambling to find a replacement plane to continue the tour.
However, it was just 10 days later, on March 21st, that the repairs were completed after two $4 Million (EACH!) jet engines were flown 12,000 km to replace the damaged ones, according to Iron Maiden’s Facebook page.
Given that Iron Maiden are performing TONIGHT at the Air Canada Centre, the band arrived in spectacular fashion at Pearson Airport yesterday.
If you’ve never hung out alongside the boundary of Pearson Airport on Airport Road in Toronto and watched the planes come in for a while, I highly recommend it. I got to spend a little time there last summer doing just that, and it was a pretty cool experience… But there are folks who do that all the time, like the person behind the Toronto Plane Spotter YouTube Channel.
Luckily, such devotion afforded the enthusiasts a chance to see Ed Force One first hand, coming in for a landing with Bruce Dickinson in the cockpit… And man, it looks pretty damn cool. Check it out:
Iron Maiden hits the stage tonight at the Air Canada Centre. If you’re heading to the show, all the best for a safe flight up the 401!