Bruce Dickinson On His Aviation Career: ‘A Lot Of Airline Pilots Die After Retirement’

Speaking at a question-and-answer event at St. Vitus in Brooklyn, New York, with interviewer Joe DiVita of Loudwire, Bruce Dickinson opened up about the realities of an aviation career and its implications on life after retirement.

Dickinson, who piloted his band around the globe in their custom jumbo jet, Ed Force One, discussed the demanding nature of being a pilot and the toll it takes, saying:

“It’s a tiring old job in the end. Now, some people, they just wanna go on, and then, when they stop flying, they just kind of die. And it’s true — a lot of airline pilots die within, like, five years of retirement. It’s an incredible number. It’s quite shocking, actually… They just spent their whole life doing it. And they are, like, ‘What do I do now?'”

A Crossroad In The Sky

The conversation took a deeper dive as the singer discussed the crucial moments that many pilots face in their careers. He outlined two paths: one leading to a monotonous routine similar to ‘Groundhog Day’ and the other towards diversification and new challenges. Bruce noted:

“And then there are other pilots who go, ‘You know what? It’s 10,000 hours. I kind of like flying but just doing the same ‘Groundhog Day’ every day. Maybe I should do something different. Maybe I should go part-time. Maybe I should do some training. Maybe I should go into a bit of management. Maybe I should do a bit of this.'”

From Pilot To Mentor

He continued, explaining how he chose the latter, transitioning into a trainer role:

“And that’s what happened to me, is I became a trainer and I was a ground school trainer. I was the chief technical pilot, the 757, 737. So, I was training other pilots. I was in the simulator doing stuff. And the learning makes it interesting. But I could see there was this cutoff point where people would go either ‘I want everything to be ‘Groundhog Day,’ and that makes me really happy’ or ‘there’s more to life than just doing this.'”

In January 2022, Dickinson made the decision to retire from his role as the pilot of the band’s Boeing 747, known as Ed Force One. For over a decade, Dickinson had not only fronted Iron Maiden but also flown its members, crew, and equipment around the world for tours.

Watch his complete Q&A session below.