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Bruce Dickinson’s airships will soon hit the skies

Bruce Dickinson and Airlander 10
(Image credit: Paul Thomas / Justin Tallis, Getty Images)

Bruce Dickinson’s Empire Of The Clouds will become more than an Iron Maiden song in the near future, after 10 airships were commissioned from a company he works with.

The Airlander 10 helium-filled ships have been under development for years, but the $600 million deal means they’ll be in use in Spain as soon as 2026.

Dickinson, a qualified commercial pilot, is associated with Hybrid Air Vehicles. They’ve begun construction after the order was placed by Air Nostrum, a company owned by the parent of British Airways. The ships are being build in the north of England, Business Insider reported.

Airships are seen as part of aviation’s future because they reduce emissions and are more easily converted to electric running than other aircraft. The Airlander 10 will be fully electric-powered by 2030, carrying up to 100 passengers and capable of remaining in the air for five days at a time.

Development has not been without its difficulties – the prototype Airlander crashed on its second flight in 2016 and broke free from its moorings in 2017, injuring two people in the process.

But Dickinson would know all about that. Empire Of The Clouds, which appeared on Maiden’s 2015 album The Book Of Souls, is an 18-minute epic that explores the story of the hydrogen-filled R101 airship, which crashed on its first commercial flight in 1930, killing 48 of the 54 people aboard.

He wrote the song during album sessions in a process he described as “mad professorish.” Bandmate Steve Harris was much more complimentary, saying: “I think it’s a masterpiece, actually – I think I can say that because I didn’t write it!

“It sounds like Maiden but it’s totally different from what we’ve done before. Eighteen minutes sounds like a long time, but it’s actually such a journey that… well, it’s best just to leave people to listen to it and see what they think. But it’s very interesting. It’s certainly not boring.”

Maiden’s Legacy Of The Beast World Tour continues.

Martin Kielty

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.