Bruce Dickinson took to the stage in front of thousands of screaming fans at a sold out Toronto show last Saturday night but the intrepid frontman was flying over Hamilton in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s prized Lancaster Bomber before he took to the stage.
Museum CEO and pilot David Rohrer said the World War II aircraft, nicknamed Vera because of its VRA flight initials, holds a special place in Bruce’s heart, telling CBC News:
“The first model airplane he ever built as a young lad was a Lancaster.”
The museum invited Bruce to their facility which is next to the Hamilton airport knowing that he is a massive aviation and history buff and it’s already been well publicised that he is currently flying Maiden around North America on their current ‘Book Of Souls world tour final leg in the band’s 747, Ed Force One.
The previous legs of the tour saw him flying across the globe to thirty-five different countries, including stops in Canada, the United States, Central and South America, China, Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe, hitting every continent except Antarctica.
Bruce told Wales Online earlier this year that the thrill of flying feels totally different than the thrill of being onstage.
“The satisfaction flying airplanes is getting the job done, but the satisfaction with playing live is external, looking out at all the people looking at you,” he said.
“With an airliner, it’s all internal. If you’ve got passengers, nobody goes, ‘wow, wasn’t that great’. They’re thinking about the rest of their day. Your job as an airline pilot is to deliver them safely and be invisible.”
Hamilton’s 1940s-era Lancaster is one of only two left flying in the world. It was built at Victory Aircraft in Malton, Ontario, in 1945 and was used to train air crews and later for coastal patrols and search and rescue work, before being retired in 1963.
The Warplane Heritage Museum bought it in 1977 for around $10,000. A team of volunteers led by Royal Navy aeronautical builder Norm Etheridge spent eleven years restoring it before it returned to the air on September 24th 1988.
Bruce spent the best part of the day at the museum, talking aviation and signing autographs for fans.
“He was just unbelievable. So nice,” Rohrer said. “You could really see how much he appreciated the planes.”
But Bruce needed to ensure he would be back in time for the concert and had the problem of gridlocked traffic heading back into Toronto so he flew a friend’s small Cessna 172 back to Toronto Island to be back at the Budweiser Stage on time.
“What a truly interesting guy,” Rohrer said.