Bruce Dickinson recently spoke about his other profession, being a pilot, and recalled an emotional memory of flying some British soldiers out of Afghanistan in 2008.
Aside from being a rockstar, Bruce Dickinson has also been a pilot for around 30 years. He learned how to fly a plane in the 1990s, and he has occasionally been flying since then. However, in 2008, he had some high-profile flights which are memorable to him until this day.
While continuing to be a rockstar on the side, Dickinson was tasked to return a group of British soldiers from Afghanistan, in 2008 and citizens from Lebanon and Egypt in 2006. Hence, he was exposed to a lot of heroism in his lifetime. The memory he recently recalled was related to that period, and it seems to have made a permanent place in Dickinson’s head.
He was carrying numerous people who had been in war. Some had injuries and casualties, which added to the importance of their return. While he was landing the plane, Dickinson spotted the soldiers’ friends and families at the side of the runway, and he teared up. Seeing them eagerly waiting for their loved ones got Dickinson emotional and left a permanent mark in his heart.
Here is the story as told by Dickinson:
“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. And sometimes we flew people back. And sometimes we flew people back who had been in Afghanistan, for example, been in a war. They would go somewhere for two or three weeks to try and readjust, and then we’d take them back. And one particular flight, we were flying the Royal Air Force Regiment, which is RAF boots on the ground, soldiers.
And they’d been to Afghanistan. It was an unusual flight because we were returning them to their actual home base — not to a military airfield, and then they get on a coach, and they go back to their barracks. Where they were based had a runway, and we were told to go directly there. 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 — I mean, seriously… And we flew them into a place called the RAF Wittering, which is where they invented the Harrier Jump Jet.”
He continued as follows:
“So, as we were coming into land, we stopped, and we blew the reverse thrust. And I had a female co-pilot, first officer. And 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. I mean, it was very emotional. And we actually had to stop the airplane because my co-pilot was welling up, and so was I.
We were both trying not to cry. I went, ‘Okay, we’re going to stop. We’re going to blow our noses, make sure we can f*cking see where we’re going, and then do the job, because this is really exceptional.’ The last thing you wanna do is go, ‘It was so emotional, we ended up in a f*cking ditch.’ So, we dropped them off, and that was it. So that was one of the more memorable flights — the sort of thing we used to do.”
You can listen to the story below.