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The Story of Ed Force One

Image of Terry SmithTERRY SMITH tells the story of this Heavy Metal aircraft.

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During Bruce Dickinson’s six-year hiatus between 1993 to 1999 from fronting rock band Iron Maiden, he embarked on a solo career; but what interests us is that he trained to become certified as a pilot. When he re-joined the group they planned their 2008 tour and he came up with a way to reach as many fans as possible.

The three incarnations of 'Ed Force One'- all drew crowds of both aviation and rock fans at the world’s airports.

The band had been told that it was just not economically viable to visit places like India and Costa Rica. Dickinson thought that if you just loaded everything, the band, equipment, and support staff into one airplane, he could fly the band to an almost European-type itinerary, but on a global scale. Back then, Bruce was cleared to fly twin engine jets such as the 737 and the 757, the band and its management went with a Boeing 757 registered as G-OJIB for its 2008 to 2009 'Somewhere Back in Time' tour. It was dubbed 'Ed Force One' following a naming competition entered by fans. It was painted with the band’s mascot Eddie on the tail fin and the band’s name down the fuselage, with the plane ferrying them across four continents. It included stops in Australia, India, Japan, and several across South America.

747-400 TF-AAK flying on a leg of the 2016 Iron Maiden 'Book of Souls Tour'.

The aircraft, along with the second 757 to bear an Iron Maiden livery, G-STRX, both came from Dickinson’s 'day job' airline, Gatwick based charter carrier Astraeus. The band had originally intended to use the same plane for its second, 'Final Frontier' airborne tour in 2011 as it had back in 2008-2009. However, a last-minute change saw the group embark on its next world tour with G-STRX instead. The plane took Iron Maiden to no less than 39 countries, where the band performed a total of 100 shows.

Looking every inch an airline pilot and not a rock star, Bruce Dickinson is also a world class swordsman, and owns his own brewery!

Dickinson obtained his four-engined accreditation in 2015 and decided to use this to good effect for the band's upcoming 2016 'Book of Souls' tour. The band wanted the tour to feature one of the loudest sound systems and elaborate stages to ever to travel the world, it was transported in Iron Maiden’s famed Boeing 747-400 TF-AAK. The Jumbo started her career with Air France in 2003 and left the French flag-carrier for more northern climes in 2015 joining the fleet of Air Atlanta Icelandic. The Boeing was configured to take between 70-130 passengers with space for beds, the rest of the plane carried a sizeable amount of stage equipment.

TF-AAK undertook a massive world tour as outlined on the nose of the aircraft.

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Having been flown by Dickinson literally around the world with stops in countries including China, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and across North and South America, Ed Force One dropped off from the tour in June 2016. When it was returned from its mission of ferrying one of the most famous heavy metal bands of all time, it operated one more flight with the livery. It ferried 350 Icelandic soccer fans to a Euro 2016 match between Iceland and Hungary in Marseille. Will we ever see it’s like again? I am not so sure we ever will.

Herpa Wings will have produced models of all three versions of Ed Force One, once the two 757s are released in May/June in two different scales.

HA535250 Boeing 757-200 Iron Maiden 2008 Tour G-OJIB (1:500)

HA535267 Boeing 757-200 Iron Maiden 2011 Tour G-STRX (1:500)

HA613255 Snapfit Boeing 757-200 Iron Maiden 2008 Tour (1:200)

HA613262 Snapfit Boeing 757-200 Iron Maiden 2011 Tour (1:200)

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