'Flying Heavy Metal' With IRON MAIDEN Singer BRUCE DICKINSONJanuary 26, 2005
Discovery Channel U.K. has posted an interview with IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson about "Flying Heavy Metal with Bruce Dickinson", the documentary series about airplanes hosted by Dickinson that began airing last week. The Q&A session follows:
Q: What's more exciting — flying at 30,000ft or performing in front of 30,000 people?
Bruce Dickinson: "I can only get up to 42,000 feet on a 757, so to get to the same level as IRON MAIDEN I'd have to get to 300,000 feet, which is the same as our crowd at Rock in Rio. That would be pretty exciting I reckon...but unlikely at the moment."
Q: Did you build model planes when you were young and dream of flying the real thing?
Bruce Dickinson: "I had a fleet of Heinkel 111's, Focke wulf 190's, Hurricanes, thunderbolts, Lancasters and a Sunderland, not to mention a plastic Zeppelin (not a Led one!!) Every now and then one would plunge to a fiery doom from my bedroom window after being modified by cotton wool and lighter fluid."
Q: Do you think flying would have been your career if you hadn't got into music?
Bruce Dickinson: "It took me ages to pluck up the courage to have a go at flying, mainly because I thought I couldn't cope with the academic side of the exams (I was hopeless at maths and physics at school). After my first flight I just decided that I would do whatever it took to get up to speed and pass the ground school."
Q: How long did it take to get your commercial pilot's license?
Bruce Dickinson: "I spent a year doing the academic exams and the flying exams. I already had a private license and had a reasonable amount of experience. Once you have a commercial license and the Instrument Rating to go with it, then you are in a position to try and badger people into letting fly their airplanes. The next hurdle is getting a job and passing the ground and flight exams to fly Jet aircraft — I found that very tough."
Q: Have you had any IRON MAIDEN fans clammering to get into the cockpit when they find out you're at the controls?
Bruce Dickinson: "Almost every pilot I know regrets that fact that we are not allowed to have people visit the flight deck anymore. If we could let people up front then we would. Where are the pilots of tomorrow going to have their first experience of flight? So many young kids became pilots after visiting the flight deck. In some ways TV shows like 'Flying Heavy Metal' are the only ways of telling people what a great job it is."
Q: You're obviously mad about flying and you have a pretty good knowledge of aircraft, did you learn anything that amazed or surprised you while you were making "Flying Heavy Metal"?
Bruce Dickinson: "We shot over 75 hours of footage for the series. Only a fraction of that was used, and I spent hours in conversation with some of the greatest designers in aviation history. I think some of the political interference with aviation designers was one of the most tragic aspects I discovered."
Q: What was the scariest moment, or biggest challenge you faced while making the series?
Bruce Dickinson: "When we took off in the KC 135 tanker, full of jet fuel, the whole fuselage filled with smoke and I thought we had an APU fire!! It turned out that the aircraft HAD actually caught fire the day before over Africa, and the smoke was residual crud and unburnt kerosene sloshing around in the plumbing."
Q: You raved about flying the Boeing 727, was it your favourite plane from the series?
Bruce Dickinson: "I've got to hand it to the 727 crew. They happily let me take off, whizz around the Everglades and do a touch and go plus three full stop landings in it. I really loved the 727, but I was also very surprised at the Airbus A320. Both are pioneering Aircraft from different eras, but I found both of them very harmonious in their design."
Q: What do you think was the greatest innovation in jet flight?
Bruce Dickinson: "After the aerodynamics of swept wings began to be understood, it was powerplants that were the big frontier. The 747 was plagued by its lack of power early on, and it's only now that engines have been developed that are powerful enough to make superjumbos a reality."
Q: Given the chance which aircraft would you most like to fly that you haven't already?
Bruce Dickinson: "Concorde, Harrier, F 16, F 86, T 33, Meteor, Me 262, Mig 17 and 21, Spitfire, Hurricane and FW 190. Blenheim and Lancaster, B17, B25, and a Constellation/DC 6. How's that for starters?"
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