A legend of the heavy metal music genre, Bruce Dickinson of the band Iron Maiden, has been enrolled by the Royal Air Force into the County of London Squadron 601 as an honorary Group Captain.
He was enrolled as thanks for his long-term support of the Royal Air Force.
The squadron that Dickinson has joined was reactivated by the RAF in 2017 and is made up of Reserve members that endeavor to recruit members from academia and industry to help shape the RAF of the future.
Other high-profile members of the squadron are Sir Chris Hoy, a six-time Olympic cycling champion, and Carol Vorderman of television fame.
Dickinson, who has a worth of about £90 million, is no stranger to the military or to flying. He has previously served a term of six months with the territorial Army.
In the 1990s, while taking a break from performing with Iron Maiden, he trained as a pilot.
When he re-joined the band in 1999, he took on the duties of a pilot, while flying the group from one performance to another in their adapted Boeing 747 called Ed Force One.
The 747 is painted in the band’s colors and has the band’s mascot, Eddie the Head, painted on the tail fin.
Dickinson furthered his relationship with the Royal Air Force when in 2008, he captained a 747 chartered by the Ministry of Defence to fly pilots from Afghanistan to an RAF base, RAF Wittering, in Cambridgeshire.
He needed the RAF’s assistance when in August 2015, he was forced to make an emergency landing at RAF Halton, an RAF base in Buckinghamshire. This occurred when he almost ran out of fuel while piloting a replica WWI Fokker triplane.
Dickinson holds a professional airline pilot license and has flown for some major airlines such as easyJet and British Airways. He has also worked in the charter business. In October 2010, he flew Liverpool Football Club to Naples for a European Cup clash against Napoli.
His love affair with planes and flying has been reflected in his music. One of the best known is the track Empire of the Clouds, which contains the words, “Sailors of the sky, a hardened breed, loyal to the king, and an airship creed.”
Other hits that have a military flavor include Aces High, which pays tribute to the Allied pilots that flew in the Battle of Britain to protect Britain during the summer of 1940 against the German Luftwaffe.
Dickinson’s latest interaction with the RAF is in a field entirely aside from flying; fencing. Dickinson is a very keen swordsman and uses the pastime to keep fit and hone his reflexes. He was once ranked as high as #7 in the United Kingdom.
He will compete in the internal RAF Championships that are scheduled to be held over the 16th and 17th May, and depending on his performance at these championships, he could represent the RAF at the Inter-Service Fencing Championships in July.
Now that he is a Group Captain in Squadron 601 (County of London), he is eligible to represent the RAF in official fencing competitions.
The RAF is naturally delighted to have a high-profile celebrity represent them at fencing. A spokesman said that the RAF was delighted to have such a ‘nice bloke’ join in an honorary capacity.
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Outside of music, his two primary interests are flying and fencing, both of which fit with his RAF membership.