The legend of rock is the man behind Cardiff Aviation, a new multi-million pound aircraft maintenance business that has just been launched in South Wales.
The company, which will serve as a base for the repair and overhaul of aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767, is expected to create around 1,500 jobs, bringing huge benefits to the region’s economy.
So how did he make that leap from rock star to aviation entrepreneur? Well actually Bruce is no stranger to the world of air travel.
When he left Iron Maiden, temporarily, in the early 90s to pursue a solo career, he took time out to train and qualify as a commercial airline pilot, and went on to fly Boeing 757s for Astraeus Airlines.
Having flown all over the world with the airline, he’s also been involved in mercy missions, bringing holidaymakers home from crisis-hit countries.
In 2006, he brought around 200 Brits back to the UK from Lebanon for Astraeus during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, and two years later, came to the rescue again when he flew an Iceland Express aircraft to collect 180 holidaymakers who’d been left stranded in Egypt when XL Airways suddenly folded.
All the while he managed to keep both careers, piloting and performing, airborne; quite literally in fact, when Iron Maiden commissioned an Astraeus Boeing 757 as transport for their 2008 world tour. The aircraft, nicknamed, Ed Force One, and decked out in Iron Maiden’s distinctive livery, transported the band around 30 countries in less than three months.
Bruce went on to become Astraeus Airlines’ marketing director, famously promoting the company’s services through the use of video, which ultimately led to the Civil Aviation Authority releasing a health and safety video which featured the Heavy Metal man himself ramping up the importance of loading aircraft safely.
When the airline closed at the end of 2011 he immediately launched himself into his latest venture, Cardiff Aviation, providing key maintenance services for airliners and other large aircraft for major and independent airlines, and reaffirming Wales’ long association with the aircraft industry.
The company will be based in a 132,000 square foot hangar at the St Athan enterprise zone, one of five new enterprise zones in Wales, and which focuses on the aerospace industry.
And 30 years on, Iron Maiden is still rocking the music world and looks destined to do for a long time. In a poll carried out by HMV marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to name the best British album of the last 60 years, it was the band’s classic ‘The Number Of The Beast’ that grabbed the top slot.
With a career spanning so many successes (he is also an accomplished fencer, competing at international level, a broadcaster and a published novelist) Bruce Dickinson taking centre stage at the Entrepreneur Country Forum next month is one performance you won’t want to miss.
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