A LEGENDARY heavy metal rock star has thrown his weight behind a campaign to preserve a vintage bomber at Southend Airport for future generations.

Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who is a qualified pilot, paid a visit to Hockley to speak about his life as a music icon and an airline captain.

The star’s visit was organised by the Vulcan Restoration Trust, which looks after the Vulcan bomber kept at Southend Airport. Bruce took time out to take a look inside the vintage plane, before his talk at Hawkwell Village Hall.

Phil Whalley, spokesman for the trust, said: “During the morning, Bruce took the controls of the Vulcan to run the engines as part of the ongoing engineering regime.

“The rock star is not a stranger to Avro Vulcan B2 XL426, having visited in 2006. He took the jet for a high-speed taxi run down Southend’s runway, reaching more than 100mph, before using the aircraft’s brake chute to bring her to a stop.

“This event was open to the public, but was marred by extremely bad weather.

“Ever since then the trust has been trying to get Bruce back to Southend to entertain its members.”

More than 125 people gathered at Hawkwell Village Hall to hear the musician’s talk.

The singer left Iron Maiden for a period in the 1990s to learn to fly airliners, which included a spell with the now defunct British World Airlines at Southend Airport.

Now a fully qualified captain with UK airline Astraeus, he is back with Iron Maiden. He pilots one of the airline’s modified and specially named Boeing 757 “Ed Force One” jets. It carries the band, its equipment and an army of roadies and support teams around on the continuing Somewhere Back In Time World Tour.

The trust is entirely reliant on public support and holds a number of events throughout the year to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the iconic ex-RAF Cold War bomber.

More information about the trust can be found at www.avrovulcan.com