We Already Know Pilots Are Rockstars But Did You Know There Are A Few Pilot Rockstars?

Iron Maiden 747-400 parked on the ramp at Seattle-Tacoma Intl.

Rockstar. Captain of the industry, and Pilot:  What do these three roles have in common?

 In this case, they are the same man.  Bruce Dickinson is the lead vocalist for the metal band Iron Maiden, chairman of an international aviation development firm, and an airline pilot with experience ranging from single engine to the biggest grand-daddy of them all the 747.

Last year Bruce decided to get the band back together in the back of a 747 and take the act all over the world.


Bruce didn’t break crew rest and flew the majority of the journeys even the band’s tour schedule was, “Tailored to provide the rest time required by international regulations between each flight.”

Iron Maiden the first band ever to pack their entire show of 12 tons of lighting/sound equipment, instruments, and tour personnel all into one aircraft.  Their lead singer is also a licensed 747 pilot and he does the flying. 

“Ed Force One”

The Aircraft is aptly named “Ed Force One” after the band’s iconic mascot “Eddie” who has adorned all their cover art and makes his appearance at key points during their show.  The 2016 Tour just ended and the Maiden 747-400 travelled to locations all over the world: Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and the U.S.A. When it was parked on the ground at Seattle-Tacoma International, I could get close enough to get a look at it.

Grounded in Santiago

During the tour a towing accident with an aircraft tug seriously injured two people and crippled the “ed force one” 747 by damaging 2 of its engines.  8 days later after pulling off an international scavenger hunt for replacement parts and engaging in an international logistical marathon the maintenance crew was able to successfully replace two engines and make all the required repairs to make “ed force one” fully operational.  The aircraft was launched from Santiago and rejoined the band for the remainder of the tour.

Photo by: Iron Maiden

Airline in a Box

Bruce is also an experienced airline pilot who has been flying for years out of the U.K. with British World Airlines (now defunct) and Astraeus Airlines where he flew air charter service on the Boeing 737 and Boeing 757.  More recently he has taken interest in the airline service provider Cardiff Aviation based at St. Athan U.K.  As Chairman, he has positioned Cardiff Aviation to be a leader in the pilot development & training with two 747 sims and the Sikorsky S61 helicopter. 

The company also provides MRO – aircraft Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul services and aircraft leasing solutions to multiple operators.  But the service that may set them apart is the, “Airline in a box.” This service is aimed at corporations and international governments seeking to reduce the traditional costs and risks of establishing an airline.  Bruce says, “Airline-in-a-box is exactly what it sounds like – we carry out everything you need to establish operations to create an airline accredited under EASA safety standards, and all you have to do is pick the name and sell the tickets.” The proof of concept was demonstrated with the establishment of Air Djibouti in Aug 2016.  The welcome ceremony was held with much fanfare at Djibouti International and Bruce personally delivered their first B-737 . 

Bruce Dickinson, Rockstar. Captain of the industry. Pilot.  Dare we add another, “Avgeek.”