Hello dear readers! After some articles with grey aviation theory, it is time for some planespotting again! The plane I want to present to you is a more than special one. In June 2016, I was able to “catch” the Ed Force One on camera. In this article, I will present Iron Maiden’s flying tourbus to you.
Ed Force One 757
The origin of the Ed Force One goes back to the year 2008. During Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere Back in Time World Tour” from 2008 to 2009, the heavy metal band chartered an Astraeus Airlines Boeing 757. This was done in order to be more flexible. The name of the aeroplane was determined after a competition on the band’s website.
For Iron Maiden’s “The Book of Souls” world tour, the guys upgraded a bit, because they chartered a significantly larger plane. This had one simple reason: The 757 became too small to carry all of the band’s equipment. An ex-Air France Boeing 747-400, leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic. The best part of the story is the pilot because Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson flew this beauty personally.
Bruce Dickinson – Ed Force One Pilot, Rockstar and Manager in one Person!
Bruce Dickinson holds an ATPL since the early 1990s. He is also in possession of a type rating for the Boeing 747-400. That is why this gentlemen cannot only fly on this amazing flying tourbus as a passenger, but also take over the controls of this beast. Until some years ago, Bruce Dickinson worked as a pilot for the aforementioned charter carrier Astraeus Airlines. Unfortunately, however, this airline filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
Dickinson’s occupation as a pilot is also the main reason for his short haircut. This is quite atypical for a heavy metal singer. Bruce Dickinson still is very engaged in the aviation industry, since he is a manager at Air Djibouti, bought the world’s largest Zeppelin and instructs rookie pilots. What a rockstar life!
Ed Force One Tail Number
As briefly mentioned before, Iron Maiden does not own the Ed Force One. Instead, the band leased the plane from a cargo and passenger charter airline called “Air Atlanta Icelandic”, which has its base for up North in Iceland. The Boeing 747-400 bears the registration TF-AAK.
Ed Force One Accident
Ed Force One operations were almost over before they truly began. The Boeing 747-400 brushed an airport vehicle in Chile. This accident destroyed two engines severely. Luckily, the plane became airworthy way faster than expected. That is why I got the chance to take some photographs of the Ed Force One at my home airport, Düsseldorf.
By the way: Why did the Ed Force One fly to Düsseldorf and not to Dortmund, where the band’s concert took place? That’s because of Dortmund’s rather short runway, which is just 2.000 meters long. This is simply too short for a heavy 747 for taking off.
Is the Ed Force One Still Flying?
Unfortunately, the TF-AAK only served the band in the course of the book of souls world tour. Having said that, the aeroplane does not act as the flying Iron Maiden tour bus anymore. The last flight with Bruce Dickinson at the controls was performed to Gothenburg on June 17, 2016. The Boeing 747-400 still belongs to Air Atlanta Icelandic Today. At the moment, it is on lease for Saudia.
I hope, that you have enjoyed my portrait of the Ed Force One. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.
Also, you might find some other articles of mine interesting.
- How does the instrument landing system work?
- What V Speeds, and how do they help pilots?
- What does a working day of a Lufthansa 747 pilot look like?
Have a great day,