Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson Recalls In-Air Emergency as Flight Captain + More Life-Threatening Experiences
Iron Maiden‘s Bruce Dickinson is a true Renaissance man and while we all worship him for the god-like frontman he is, being a singer is just one of the head-spinning portions of his résumé. Beyond Maiden, fans are well aware of his status as an airline captain as the all-too literal high-flying vocalist has famously piloted the band’s Ed Force One custom jet around the world on various tours. Throughout his newly released autobiography, What Does This Button Do?, Dickinson chronicles some harrowing in-air situations that easily could have downed him had he not maintained a cool head under pressure. In our interview with metal’s “Air Raid Siren,” the singer / pilot shared a story you won’t find in the book, detailing his troubling first flight as a captain, and he later pontificated about the fragility of life.
Flying from Gatwick, England to Egypt, Dickinson explained that the plane’s pressurization alarm went off, triggering the oxygen masks to drop from above in the cabin. “It wasn’t like in the movies because nobody was screaming — there was no loud bang. In fact, it all went in slow time and [was] not a big drama,” he explained in increasingly animated fashion. While Dickinson and his co-pilot were breathing through their oxygen masks, the flight crew knocked at the door, seemingly unfazed by the situation, questioning, “All the masks have dropped in the back of the cabin — is there a problem?” Meanwhile, the two pilots stressed the enormity of what was happening while the flight crew remained nonchalant, understood what was happening and strapped on their masks as well.
“I was just like, ‘This is not in the script!'” Dickinson exclaimed, smiling and shaking his head in disbelief. The moral of the story? “Nothing ever happens like it does in the movies.”
While that crisis was averted, Iron Maiden’s frontman details more stressful flying incidents in his book, along with his trip to Sarajevo in the middle of an active war zone while with his solo band as well as his battle with and defeat of head and neck cancer in 2015. Having survived possibly the most life-threatening experience of his now 59 years, we wondered if this had altered his outlook on death.
“Mortality is inevitable,” he understood. What it made Dickinson realize was the value of life and the utilization of his time. “Don’t waste your time and, above all, don’t let other people waste your time,” he began, adding, “I reserve the right to be impatient.” Having come out on the positive side of his cancer battle, it seems the polymath is centered as he stated, “Live life for now; live it for right now.”
What Does This Button Do? spans from Dickinson’s early childhood being raised by his grandparents through the age of five all the way through the present day, detailing his life in and out of Iron Maiden. To grab your copy of this must-read, go here.
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