RAF Halton has had an unexpected visitor this week - after Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson was forced to make an emergency landing at the station.
The heavy metal star, an experienced pilot, was flying his Fokker triplane when it began to run low on fuel.
The star has around 7,000 flying hours under his belt
The aircraft became famous as the one used by the 'Red Baron' towards the end of his First World War flying career - he used it to gain his last 19 victories before his final defeat and death in 1918.
Thankfully there was a better outcome for the 'Number of the Beast' star, however, who was helped out by RAF personnel after his landing in refuelling the historic plane.
And they were quick to praise Dickinson, who holds the coveted Air Transport Pilots’ Licence, for his decision to divert to the station.
A passing out parade at RAF Halton
Squadron leader Gary Coleman, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron at RAF Halton, is quoted as saying by the Bucks Herald:
“We applaud Bruce Dickinson’s decision to divert to RAF Halton rather than press to his destination with potentially-low fuel.
“To see such a well-regarded pilot, and world-renowned rock singer, make this decision is great for our student pilots to see."
“It makes them realise that anyone can find themselves low on fuel due to unforeseen circumstances and that the right decision is to divert.
“He really does have a magnificent Fokker Triplane, so it was a pleasure to provide it with a home for a few nights until we sent him on his way."
“This happy outcome is thanks to the work of Charles Strasser, the vice president of the Aircraft Operators’ and Pilots’ Association (AOPA), in getting the Strasser Scheme up and running several years back for the benefit of all.”
The Strasser Scheme, which all UK military airfields, and 99% of Britain’s civilian airfields, are signed up to, was set up so that any aircraft in a real emergency can divert with no extra charge.
Dickinson on stage with Iron Maiden
The emergency landing on low-fuel brings back memories of Operation Black Buck 6 during the Falklands War, one of a series of extremely long-range bombing missions by British Vulcans from RAF Ascension Island, almost 4,000 miles away in the South Atlantic.
The aircraft used in the mission destroyed an Argentine Skyguard fire-control radar with two Shrike missiles, killing four radar operators, before being forced to divert to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after its in-flight refuelling probe broke on its return flight.
A "mayday" signal was sent, whilst the crew hatch was used to jettison sensitive documents containing classified information into the sea.
The Vulcan used in the mission
The aircraft was eventually cleared to land by the Brazilians, with not even enough fuel remaining to complete a circuit of the airport.
It was held for nine days at Galeão Air Force Base, before aircraft and crew were returned on, having been treated well.
The aircraft's one remaining Shrike missile was confiscated, however, never to be returned, and the Vulcan was only given back on condition that it would take no further part in the war - instead it acted acted as flying reserve aircraft.
Photos courtesy of Matthias Kabel and BrianP