Did you know that the band Iron Maiden had its own Boeing 747 for a 2016 world tour? But where did this aircraft come from and where did it go? Let’s explore the special Boeing 747, aptly named ‘Ed Force One’.
Where did Iron Maiden get the Boeing 747 from?
The story of the Iron Maiden Boeing 747 actually begins far before they came to acquire the aircraft. The plane, a Boeing 747-400, began its illustrious life as a commercial passenger aircraft for Air France as F-GITH in 2003.
By the end of its run, the aircraft was configured with only two classes carrying 432 passengers. Business was in the nose of the plane in a 2-2-2 configuration, lacking many of the features that you would expect today such as direct aisle access and privacy. The seats were also not lie-flat and only reclined, a feature that would be unacceptable in today’s aircraft.
The rest of the bottom deck of the aircraft has economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration, with around 32 inches of pitch. Upstairs there were several rows of economy seats in a 3-3 configuration with 34 inches of pitch (a precursor to premium economy, if you will).
The aircraft operated for Air France for over a decade, finally being stored and retired in 2015.
What role did it play for them?
In 2016, the aircraft was bought by an aircraft charter company Air Atlanta Icelandic for private hires.
The band Iron Maiden was looking for a special aircraft to use on their tour (to transport all of their stage gear, show materials, as well as the band and crew members). Normally a Boeing 737 would suffice, but as this was one of the biggest shows in the world they needed extra cargo capacity.
The Boeing 747 was selected in February 2016 and repainted in a special Iron Maiden livery. Nicknamed ‘Ed Force One’ after the band’s mascot Eddie, seats were retrimmed in an all black cloth, complete with branded headrest covers for the crew members that flew with Iron Maiden on the tour. Even the contracted crew had smart branded Ed Force One neckscarves for the flights.
Interestingly, the band’s lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, so happened to be a licensed Boeing 747 pilot. As such, he flew most of the journeys conducted on Ed Force One during the 17 month tour.
The aircraft was specially modified to carry the 10,000 kg of equipment required by the supergroup for their massive world tour. Predictably, the combination of a legendary rocker at the controls and the Queen of the Skies herself pretty much guaranteed a huge crowd at the airports to witness every take off and landing the aircraft ever made. The band even set up a dedicated ‘spotters page’, for fans to share photos of the incredible aircraft.
The aircraft would be flown around the world, visiting places as far away as New Zealand, Canada, Tokyo, Brazil and more.
In Chile, the aircraft actually struck a towing truck on the tarmac and had two of its GE engines damaged. These had to be replaced and the aircraft was back in the air in 10 days.
Overall the aircraft flew the band on tour from March 2016 to June 2016.
What happened to the Iron Maiden Boeing 747?
After the tour was complete, the Boeing 747 was flown back to Iceland for further chartering. It was leased out to several small private charters, such as taking 350 Icelandic football fans to Marseille for an Iceland—Hungary match. The plane was kept in its existing livery for this trip.
Following this, the aircraft was sent back and lost its iconic Iron Maiden ‘Ed Force One’ paint scheme.
It was then leased to Saudi Arabian Airlines in August 2016 for regular passenger use. As of today the aircraft is still in rotation and flying for the airline. If you really want to fly on the same aircraft that took Iron Maiden around the world, then you can book a ticket on it today.
What do you think? Did you see this Boeing 747 in the special livery? Let us know in the comments.