What Happened To The Iron Maiden Boeing 747?

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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’.

Getty Images
The special Iron Maiden Boeing 747-400. Photo: Getty Images

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.

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Air France KLM Redundancy
An Air France Boeing 747-400. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

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.

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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.

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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.

 

747 Iron Maiden
The special livery of the aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

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.

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noel

What?…sent back to Seattle for livery…or some other European Mickey Mouse airport trying to survive……I’m in favour of regional airports btw…….great article….nice to see someone’s keeping tabs

Sean

Saw it in 2016 when it came to Auckland New Zealand for the tour. Great plane, and awesome tour. They should get an A380 for the legacy of the beast tour currently going on.

Nik

And piloted by lead-singer Bruce Dickinson, no less, who now runs an aircraft maintenance business in South Wales: https://caerdav.com/

Douglas

Saw it in Cape Town for a photo shoot, was indeed a site. And piloted by Bruce Dickinson no less!

Roger Copello

Saw the Ed Force One at the Fort Laudardale airport in south Florida, impressive

John

They surprised the fanclub members by adding everyone’s name on the plane. First photo they released had mine right in the middle of the front landing gear door. Cool thing to do IMO.

Norman Welch

Great bird and band!

Sam Rittler

I actually flew on that plane with the band. Some wild stuff went on during those flights.

Monica Graf

Yes in Züric

Robert Kim

I have a 1/144 scale model of the Iron Maiden Boeing 747-400.

Ted

Better yet, I flew on it, from Paris to Miami shortly before Air France retired it 🙂

William Roberts

Amazingly the aircraft survived the mishap on the tarmac while in Chile. I would love to know the total flight hours that this plane had overall. The 747 fleet always had airframe issues over extended periods of time. I would love to see the aircraft maintenance reports and schedules to see where it went to what hub to be recertified. If this plane is still in service that means there are no structure or stress fractures,maintenance hubs do Magnavox zyglo inspections to xray the pl8 area near wings and landing gear sections and servicing the locks on the landing gear holds.

AndrewSpark

Tracked it for hours from Australia to see it land in Cape Town.

Omar

I saw it at LAX I worked down the street from where it was stored so awsome to see.

Scott

really — what problem would that be?

Rick

Had a chance to fly with the crew out of ZRH Zurich/Switzerland. Had to purchase the Revell scale model 1/144 when it was available

H Edwards

Where did you come up with this misinformation about the 747’s safety record? You may want to do some research!

Michael Mitchell

Well, so much for rockers being a bunch of stoners! I’m not a fan, but I have to give props to ANYONE who can fly a plane, much less the 2nd largest commercial airliner in the world! It also says something about the intelligence behind commercially successful music groups. When Brittany Spears had her meltdown, I thought how sad that so many people’s livelihood was dependent on one person. As if the pressure of performing wasn’t enough! As always, be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

Chris

My partners son,who is in the army,had the pleasure of flying in Ed Force one,from Cyprus back to the UK about no e years ago.

Gavin carr

Seen this Queen of the Skies at East Midlands Airport uk toward the end of the tour also had to buy the 1:144 Revell kit but also lucky enough to find a 1:200 Diecast model that the Band had commissioned

Robert Gazsi

Saw it fly over work truck 2016 Fort Lauderdale airport awesome

Michael Sherlock

I helped build it ! We had a VP named Bruce Dickinson at the time and they all thought it was such a clever coincidence.

Krish

I saw that plane in Edmonton in April 2016

Timbo

Love the story of this plane – I saw it land at East Midlands Airport the day before Iron Maiden played at Download, in Donington in 2016.

One thing – there is an issue with the above time line:

– Overall the aircraft flew the band on tour from March 2016 to June 2017.
– After the tour was complete, the Boeing 747 was flown back to Iceland for further chartering.
– 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 (huh?) for regular passenger use.

That last sentence doesn’t fit the time line…surely it should be 2017 or even 2018 ?

regards
T

Robert Albano

I work at Boeing got to see it come in to the airport watched the departure on local cable news.

Geo

I really like the plane. I never knew Iron Maiden had there own “Ed Force One”. Great work on the article. Plus I really like Iron Maiden. 😎!!!

JKT

>crash record

No. No, they’re not.

Alan MacDonald

I would like to see what the in side of the plane looks like

Derek gallant

I had the fortune of flying ed force one for bruce to Canada when he was unwell

Tomas Travieso

Bruce Dickinson only hit one airport truck and destroyed two engines two engines.
.. that was pretty good… Sorry…. do we know who actually hit the truck? Was it Bruce or someone else?

Santi

Great article. Loved to see Bruce Dickinson flying himself, I did not know

Mervyn

How has singer Bruce Dickinson found the time to keep up his commercial pilot’s license? Does he have a regular job flying 747s for an airline?

Andrew Barnes

Amazing……for an amazing band !

Pete

Vienna june 6 2016
Had a free tour by airport tour Operator. Our Bus circled the aircraft one hour, actually for security reason we were not allowed leaving the bus.Anyway it was great fun I still remember 😆

Michael Abraham

Retired 747 BOEING !!

Mark Chaplin

I have seen there 737 at Bristol international airport

Doug

Saw it in Vancouver and also saw the band too of course. Great show. My 6th time seeing them.

Wendy

I’ve got a Porsche.

Michael Reffett

My fiance and I drove down to Tulsa Oklahoma from Kansas City in late February of 2016 to see the 2and show of this tour. They flew it up from Florida. Have pictures of it! Very memorable

Tommaso

And watch the episode of ice pilots with Bruce.

Weinschezklause

Saw it PARKED at Ngurah Rai airport ,Bali

Mr M. T Naylor

I did not see this aircraft.But watched full documentary on tour.
I was at Gatwick airport in coffee lounge when l spotted outside iron maidens own Boeing.
Have loads of pics of it taxiing on runway as well as taking off.
Then later in year booked holiday in Greece flying Austraeus airlines.Un be known to me our captain was one Bruce Dickenson lead singer with iron maiden.
Imagine how I felt afterwards when l found out.plus all the flight crew saw us off the aircraft upon landing at Kalamata airport.l could have kicked myself.

Mark

Saw the 747 at East Midlands airport while the Mighty Maiden were headlining at Download Festival at Castle Donington. The old Monsters of Rock.

Ackshually Eddie

Iron Maiden aren’t a supergroup. A supergroup is a band formed of members that were already famous in a solo career or as part of another band. The members of Iron Maiden are only famous for being in Iron Maiden. Yes, they are a super group but they are not a supergroup.

Stash

Very nice story. I always found that livery very fascinating watching the spotting vids. Now it just got that much cooler knowing the pilot was the band leader!

Jonny Random

Nope. And who cares

Jonny Random

Nope. And who cares?

Dave

I saw a jet with the iron maiden logo painted on it in Reykjavík Iceland in June 2011 but it turns out it was only for promotional purposes.

Paul Lee

Does anyone know this aircrafts current reg. Number please? Any details will be used to try and follow this kite and will be duly reported on this site.

Paul Lee

Does anyone know the present registration number if this aircraft please?