Did you know that the Iron Maiden group had their own Boeing 747 for a world tour in 2016? But where did this plane come from and where did it go?
Where does the 747 come from?
The history of the Iron Maiden Boeing 747 actually begins long before they had the aircraft in their possession. The plane, a Boeing 747-400. Began its illustrious life as a commercial airliner for Air France under the name F-GITH in 2003.
At the end of its life, the aircraft was configured with only two classes for 432 passengers. Business classes were located in the nose of the aircraft in a 2-2-2 configuration and lacked many of the amenities you would expect today, such as direct aisle access and privacy. The seats also did not have a recline position and could only recline, a feature that would be unacceptable in today’s aircraft. The rest of the lower deck of the aircraft has economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration. Upstairs there were several rows of economy seats in a 3-3 configuration. The plane flew for Air France for over ten years and was finally stored and retired in 2015.
Why a 747?
In 2016, the aircraft was purchased by an aircraft charter company Air Atlanta Icelandic for private hire. The Iron Maiden band were looking for a special plane to use on their tour (to transport all of their stage pieces, show equipment, as well as the band and crew members). Normally a Boeing 737 would suffice, but since this was one of the largest lounges 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. The seats were upholstered in an all-black fabric, with signature headrest covers. Even the contracted crew had Ed Force One ties for flights.
Interestingly, the band’s lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson was a licensed Boeing 747 pilot. In this capacity, he performed most of the flights on Ed Force One during the 17-month tour.
The aircraft was specially adapted to carry the 10,000 kg of equipment the group needed for its round-the-world trip. The combination of a legendary rocker at the control stick and the Queen of Heaven herself, of course, guaranteed huge crowds at airports to witness every takeoff and landing the plane ever made. The group even set up a special ‘observation page’ where fans can share photos of the plane.
The plane would tour the world and visit places like New Zealand, Canada, Tokyo, Brazil and more.
In Chile, the plane struck a tow truck on the tarmac and two of the GE engines were damaged. These had to be replaced and the plane is back in the air within 10 days. In total, the aircraft flew the group on tour from March 2016 to June 2016.
What happened to the 747 after the tour?
After the tour was completed, the Boeing 747 was returned to Iceland for further charter. It has been hired to several small private charters, such as transporting 350 Icelandic football supporters to Marseille for an Iceland-Hungary match. The aircraft was kept in its existing livery for this trip. After that, the aircraft was returned and lost its iconic Iron Maiden ‘Ed Force One’ livery.
It was then leased to Saudi Arabian Airlines in August 2016 for regular passenger use. To this day, the aircraft is still in circulation.