Bruce Dickinson had to "stop" his plane when he grew emotional bringing RAF personnel home to their families.

Bruce Dickinson is a qualified pilot

Bruce Dickinson is a qualified pilot

The Iron Maiden frontman is a qualified commercial pilot and he recalled how one of his most memorable flights involved transporting Royal Air Force pilots back to the UK from Afghanistan in 2008, explaining how he and his co-pilot were overwhelmed when they saw the cheering crowds waiting for their aircraft on the runway.

Speaking at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City as part of his 'An Evening with Bruce Dickinson' tour over the weekend, he said: “We were the flying the Royal Air Force Regiment, which is RAF boots-on-the-ground soldiers, and they’d been to Afghanistan.

“They had taken some casualties and they had lost some people, but they were all really cheerful – the best passengers you could ever have in the military. As we were coming in to land, we stopped and we blew the reverse thrust.

“We were looking out, and all really close to the runway were families, kids, all the families and wives and everybody of all the soldiers, and they were all [holding signs, saying] ‘You’re my hero, daddy’ and everything else.

"[It was] very emotional. We actually had to stop the airplane, because my co-pilot was welling up and so was I.

“We were both trying not to [cry]. I went, ‘Okay, we’re gonna stop. We’re gonna blow our noses, make sure we can see where we’re going, and then do the job – because this is really exceptional.'”

Bruce obtained his pilot's license in the 1990s and as well as working with commercial airlines, he famously flew his band's own private jet, Ed Force One.

The 'Run to the Hills' hitmaker has even incorporated his passion for planes into the band's live show, as they opened their UK 'Legacy Of The Beast Tour' shows in 2018 by performing with a Spitfire replica on stage.

He previously said: "We would have made it actual size but we had to cut it down by 10 per cent to fit on some of the festival stages, otherwise it's an exact replica of arguably the greatest plane design ever, in fact one of the best designed machines ever!"