This is a retelling of the classic Greek myth of Icarus' flight, but with a twist. In the original, Deadallus and his son, Icarus, escape King Minos' prison by building wax wings and flying away on them. Deadallus warns Icarus not to fly too high, but the cocky teen rebels, his wings melt, and he plummets to his death in what is now called "The Icarian Sea" (he was reportedly buried by Hercules). In the song, Deadallus watches from the ground, and his advice to his son is to "fly and touch the sun." The now obedient Icarus does so, and realizes his father tricked him just before his wings melt.
Iron Maiden's first single released in the United States. The B-side of the single was "I've Got the Fire."
The album cover showed Icarus' wings being torched by Eddie, the band's mascot.
The opening guitar riff was inspired by Dio's "Holy Diver."
This was the first Iron Maiden single featuring drummer Nicko McBrain, who replaced Clive Burr.
One of the few Maiden songs Steve Harris had no hand in writing. Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith composed it and wrote the lyrics.
Steve Harris: "It's a really good song but we much prefer it live. We tend to play it a little bit faster live. Looking back on it now we feel we could have played it at the faster speed on the album. This little extra touch gives it a bit more fire. If you're counting solos, this is Dave (Murray)."
On the top right-hand corner of the back of the album Somewhere in Time, you can see Icarus falling from the sun with his wings on fire.
The cover art for the single, like "Run to the Hills," had some resemblance to the cover art for the album The Number of the Beast (although, unlike "Run to the Hills", "Flight of Icarus" wasn't a track from that album). They both seem to take place in Hell and both feature spiraling gray clouds.
Tierra Santa covered this on the 2002 compilation album A Tribute to the Beast.
This was Iron Maiden's first single released in the United States. The B-side of the single was a cover of Montrose's 1976 song "I've Got the Fire." (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for all above)