Ask a boy what he wants to be when he grows up and most will answer either a pilot or a rock musician (if not Police and fireman). So it is hard not to be jealous when you meet Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden (one of the world’s most successful heavy metal bands in history with over 90 million album sales worldwide) and who also owns Cardiff Aviation Ltd, an aircraft maintenance company that also trains pilots and contracts out flights for different assignments or to other airlines. He has flown the band on tour, one tour which was filmed where he flew the band between continents on flight 666 (the name of the tour and documentary film was “Iron Maiden: Flight 666”). Yes – it sure does seem like Bruce Dickinson has lived the dream of most boys.
The band have just released a new album which was delayed due to Bruce having been diagnosed with mouth cancer, at the back of his tongue. He underwent seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and was given the all clear in May 2015.
I met an upbeat, lively and fun Bruce at Cardiff airport. (We were supposed to fly out to Cardiff in a small plane, and Bruce was going to be the pilot, but due to weather I had a 4 hour drive each way instead.) He showed us around his hanger and three flight simulators, spread between Cardiff airport and the military airport next door. An impressive setup and Bruce was full of enthusiasm. I am not sure if this is the enthusiasm that comes with fame, success and the ability to follow your dream, or if it is the enthusiasm of a man who has recovered from one of the most scary diagnosis you can have and is now breathing fresh air with new optimism again. I suspect it’s a little of both.
So when the day was over, after having hung around in big hangars, sat in jet engines and made paper airplanes we found our way to the pub, for a 30 min chill and a pint before all going our own ways. Which brings me to an other significant creation of Bruce – his collaboration with Robinsons to make their fastest and best selling beer ‘Trooper’. Not one they had on tap where we were but still an other arrow to the ‘Man’s man’ bow.