Sunday, July 29, 2012

Iron Maiden joins Ice Pilots NWT on historic northbound plane

EDMONTON - “Welcome to the Maiden flight of Ed Force Three,” beams Mikey McBryan, one of the stars of History Television’s reality show, Ice Pilots NWT.

The general manager of Buffalo Airways is standing in front of the cockpit door of a Douglas DC-3 as the vintage aircraft idles on the runway at the Edmonton Municipal Airport.

His cantankerous father, Buffalo Joe, sits in the pilot’s seat, while one of Mikey’s childhood heroes is in the co-pilot’s seat: Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, fresh off a gig at Rexall Place.

The bright-eyed British singer, who started flying in the 1990s, used to work as a commercial pilot for a small British airline and now runs his own aircraft maintenance firm, Cardiff Aviation, in Wales. For the next three hours and 20 minutes on a cloudy Saturday in July, he’ll guide the silver and green aircraft north to Hay River, NWT.

Before slipping into the cockpit, he affixes a sticker designed as a bull’s-eye, with the words Captain Dickinson and Ed Force Three, on the outside of the plane. The 53-year-old vocalist used to fly his band from gig to gig on a Boeing 757 known as Ed Force One, named after Iron Maiden’s mascot, Eddie. This particular DC-3 was one of the first Royal Air Force planes to drop paratroopers over Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

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