Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Book of Souls Tour, Iron Maiden Touches Down Under in a 747

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They formed in Leyton, East London in 1975 by the bands bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris and have been rocking around the world since. Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with reports stating in 2015 that the band have sold over 90 million albums worldwide.

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The current band line up consists of:

Bruce Dickinson-Lead Vocals

Steve Harris-Bass Guitar

Dave Murray-Guitar

Adrian Smith-Guitar

Nicko McBrain-Drums

Janick Gers-Guitar

The band toured Australia and New Zealand in May supported by the band, ‘The Raven Age’. They played at the dates and venues listed below.

Sunday 1st, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND Vector Arena
Wednesday 4th, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Friday 6th, Sydney, AUSTRALIA Qudos Bank Arena
Monday 9th, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA Rod Laver Arena
Thursday 12th, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Saturday 14th, Perth, AUSTRALIA Perth Arena

It was announced that for ‘The Book Of Souls World Tour’ the band would fly in a Boeing 747-400 converted to haul the band, its gear and equipment to the various cities around the world. Australian Spotter’s were all chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the 747 painted up especially for the tour. Named ‘Ed Force One’ it continued on from the legacy of the 757 which the band had previously charted from Astraeus Airlines.

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-400 ASO LR 3 (1 of 1)
TF-AAK, Boeing 747-428 arrives into Melbourne.

Originally ordered as 747-428 MSN 32868, for Air France, the aircraft was delivered on the  31st of March 2003 as F-GITH. The aircraft was to serve the airline well applying its trade until its retirement in 2015. This wasn’t to be the last of this 13 year old aircraft days though. Its retirement was short lived as it was purchased by Air Atlanta Icelandic and became TF-AAK in December 2015. To meet the bands requirements some customization was required and this was preformed by Volga Dnepr-Gulf. What also makes this aircraft and its arrival a little more unique is its pilot. The lead singer, Bruce Dickerson himself is a qualified pilot on the 747 and has flown many of the legs on the tour. Bruce is an extremely accomplished pilot and started his own aircraft maintenance and pilot training company in 2012, named Cardiff Aviation.

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Bruce Dickerson exiting Ed Force One

Dickinson has presented his own radio show on BBC Radio from 2002–2010, and has also hosted television documentaries, authored novels and film scripts. And if that isn’t enough he also created a successful beer with Robinsons Brewery and is also competed at fencing internationally. So what does he do in his spare time? He flies his Fokker Dr.1 Triplane replica in conjunction with the Great War Display Team, which re-enacts First World War air battles at airshows across the United Kingdom. WHAT A BLOKE!

 

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-400 ASO LR 2 (1 of 1)

Seen above landing into Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport on the 8th May, the airport had one of its largest gatherings of spotters and Iron Maiden fans since the prototype Airbus A380 visited in 2005.

ASO’s Mark Pourzenic was on hand with his video recorder when Ed Force One touched down in Melbourne, still one of the most graceful of the more modern jet liners. The Boeing 747 manages to exude class even after all these years.

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-400 ASO LR 6 (1 of 1)

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-400 ASO LR 4 (1 of 1)

Iron Maiden ASO (1 of 1)
Ground crew prepare the aircraft for departure to Adelaide on Wednesday the 11th May.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the aircraft on the tour. There was a major incident in Chile where ground service equipment which was towing the aircraft at the time became disconnected with the aircraft after the towing pin became dislodged. The aircraft and tug collided causing major damage to the aircraft’s two port side engines. After an assessment the Air Atlanta Icelandic engineers in conjunction with Lan Chile had a plan to bring the aircraft back to service in record time.

Iron Maiden ASO 2 (1 of 1)
Close up of the tail artwork.

Two new engines were packed up and flown out in a Cargolux 747 freighter along with new engine cowlings and thrust reverser’s. The team of technicians had the aircraft ready for ground running in just over 10 days. By no means a small feat considering the logistics of getting engines from Hannover in Germany, the cowlings and thrust reverser’s from the United Kingdom and tooling and other consumables from Saudi Arabia!

ASO begins the coverage of this movement in Melbourne and despite the rain, wind and the cold ASO’s Dave Soderstrom was there to greet the 747 on its arrival into Melbourne. ” Its great to see the mix of Aircraft and Iron Maiden fans mixing together to greet the band” says Dave.

The aircraft’s presence in Melbourne certainly was a highlight for Victorian spotters with a large number of people noted during its stay. At approximately 14:00 hours the aircraft taxied out…next stop Adelaide.

ASO’s Peter Lawrence was there with camera in hand.

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List of Cities Ed Force One will visit on The Book Of Soles Tour.
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Captain Bruce Dickinson
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Ed Force One taxis past the old control tower at Adelaide.

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Leaving Adelaide on the 13th May next stop was Perth, Western Australia. Dave was again there to catch the aircraft. Its stay in Perth was short like its other stops and is seen here on departure bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 ASO 6 LR (1 of 1)

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 ASO 7 LR (1 of 1)

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 ASO 8 LR (1 of 1)

The aircraft was second fiddle to the other visitor which had arrived earlier that morning, the Antonov AN-225. Crowds numbers were still very large after the Antonov’s arrival. They were joined by Iron Maiden fans keen to say goodbye to their idols.

I think its safe to say that most spotters around Australia were very happy to see the classic lines of the 747 and the Iron Maiden livery at their airport. If you didn’t catch the aircraft unfortunately you’re very unlikely to see it again. There is unconfirmed reports the aircraft is to be retired and parted out and the end of the  tour.

 

 

 

 

 

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