The band Iron Maiden used a Boeing 757 aircraft for its international tours back in the 2000s. The planes carried the backstage team, the equipment, and were even flown by the heavy metal stars themselves. What was the Iron Maiden Boeing 757 like, and what happened to the aircraft?
Why did Iron Maiden use a Boeing 757?
Iron Maiden planned a series of world-spanning tours in 2008. However, transporting all the equipment by boat and truck, and the crew via plane would be incredibly expensive. Thus it worked out cheaper to charter an aircraft for the whole tour and keep it for the duration as the equivalent of a tour bus.
By coincidence, Bruce Dickinson, one of the frontmen of the band, was also a captain at the charter airline Astraeus Airlines. This meant he could rent one of the airline’s five Boeing 757-200 planes for the tour. The aircraft selected, tail number G-OJIB would be dubbed “Ed Force One”, painted in special livery, and flown by Bruce himself.
“As a professional pilot and a professional singer with Iron Maiden, there was no doubt that Astraeus Airlines were the people for the job. The reliability was superb, and the outcome exceeded the band’s wildest expectations. A unique airline, for a unique experience. Astraeus Airlines made it happen!” – Mr. Dickinson via the airlines (now defunct) website.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the band also said, “The bean counters said it’s just not worth going” and allowed them to “do an almost European-type itinerary, but an on inter-continental basis.”
During the Somewhere Back in Time World Tour in 2008, the metal group would use the Boeing 757 to travel over 50,000 miles (flying over India, Australia, as well as North and South America) in only 45 days. They would perform 23 shows in 13 countries to around 500,000 fans. It is because of this demanding schedule that the Boeing 757 was perfect for the trip.
The Boeing 757 would be converted into a combi-configuration to carry cargo in the main passenger deck.
For the next tour, The Final Frontier World Tour in 2011, the band wanted to use the same 757-200 aircraft. However, a last-minute change resulted in a different 757, tail number G-STRX, flying instead.
After the tours, the 757s went back to Astraeus Airlines – which would, unfortunately, go bankrupt in the winter of 2011.
What happened to the Boeing 757s?
The two Boeing 757-200s went to different owners after the airline’s collapse.
- G-OJIB – After its tour, the aircraft would be leased to easyJet, then go on to serve Saudi Arabian Airlines before ending up at Thomas Cook UK (still hired from Astraeus this whole time). When the airline went under, FedEx bought the aircraft and converted it into a cargo plane. It still flies today.
- G-STRX – The second Boeing 757-200 was leased to Thomson Airways and then to Iceland Express, before being renamed EI-ETR during the airlines’ collapse in 2011. As EI-ETR, it went to International Lease Finance Corporation and, according to Planespotters.net, was broken up in July 2012.
What did Iron Maiden use next?
Interestingly, Iron Maiden didn’t switch to another type of transport but upgraded to a Boeing 747 for its next tour – due to needing more space onboard!
“The  is just not big enough for what we’ve got in mind in terms of a show. So what we’ve got onboard at the moment is the stage show.” – Bruce Dickinson to press back in 2016.
You can read about the next stage of the Iron Maiden journey with the Boeing 747 here.
What do you think? Did you go see them on tour? Let us know in the comments.