The singer was working his side hustle as a commercial pilot around the time the band had completed the 2003 LP Dance of Death. During a recent spoken-word show in Austin, he explained there were no passengers on board, and the crew was relaxing as he flew to their next European destination.
“We were coming back empty from somewhere down in Egypt or somewhere,” Dickinson told the Austin audience. “And we’re flying over Italy … autopilot’s on, thumb in bum, mind in neutral, you know. And my first officer was a big rock fan, a big AC/DC and Airbourne fan, right? … He’d bought his boombox with him, and he said, ‘Hey boss, listen. Do you mind … if I listen to music?’ I went, ‘Of course, it’s not strictly company procedure. Fuck it, yeah. Come on!’”
You can watch Dickinson tell the story below.
They listened to some AC/DC and Airbourne, and then Dickinson told his colleague that he had the upcoming Maiden album with him, “which nobody in the world has heard apart from the band and the management.” Asking if the co-pilot wanted to hear it, the response was unsurprising: “Yeah, yeah, cool!” “[We] put it in the CD player, as it was then, and put the boombox on the pedestal and we start playing it,” he continued. “I shout back to the girls and boys, ‘Anyone wanna hear the new Maiden album?’”
They liked the idea, so Dickinson took his hand microphone and placed it near the boombox. “Probably ‘Rainmaker’ or something is blasting out all through the cabin,” he recalled. “And it’s been about four minutes or so, and I’m thinking, ‘I haven’t said much on the radio recently.’”
That’s when he realized he’d been inadvertently broadcasting the music beyond the plane. “I finally get on to Rome, and all I can hear is this bloke going, ‘Who is transmitting? Who is transmitting the music? What airline are you? Who are you? Own up!’”
Referring to the chance he might have been identified, Dickinson reflected: “The great thing was, he wouldn’t have a fucking clue who it was because the album wasn’t released yet!”
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