Air, Feature, Freight News

Steady, Eddie

[ July 20, 2016   //   ]

Piloting a jumbo with your mates on board to an exotic location where you will play to thousands – nay, tens of thousands – of your adoring fans. Life surely doesn’t get much better than this?

Not only do rock legends Iron Maiden have what Air Charter Service dubs “the coolest ‘tour bus’ ever” – Ed Force One, a B747-400 freighter customised in the band’s colours and named after the band’s mascot, Eddie – but lead singer Bruce Dickinson is such an aviation nut that he often pilots the plane himself, having taken up flying in 1993.

Iron Maiden, has been flying Ed Force 1 around the world on their The Book of Souls tour for the past four months and completed the final leg after landing in Gothenburg on 16 June. It was only at the end of 2015 that Air Charter Service (ACS) received the interesting request for a customised B747-400 for four months, to fly 48 sectors, covering six continents and carrying 22 tonnes of cargo on each leg and with Iron Maiden’s singer flying it.

The jumbo isn’t the first incarnation of Ed Force 1. Previous tours used a B757 aircraft. Bruce Dickinson’s contacts in aviation though helped him pick out the ultimate aircraft for the latest tour, but the operator, Air Atlanta, invited ACS to help deal with mountain of logistics required.
ACS asembled an experienced team to work with Air Atlanta, to make the thousands of necessary arrangements for the 48 legs in 21 countries including arranging flight permissions outside Europe and fuel as well as handling agents, not to mention cargo handlers for the tonnes of stage equipment. Group commercial director, Matt Purton, reckons that ACS must have dealt with over 100 different handling agents and 300 other suppliers over the four month tour.

By and large, things went pretty smoothly considering the complexity of the tour, says ACS. Certainly, no reports of drunken in-flight rampages or wild drugs parties at 37,000 feet have reached our ears. Maybe, with the band members well into their 60s they’re just getting too old for that sort of thing.

Ed Force One resized