IRON MAIDEN's 'Ed Force One': An Inside Look

Astraeus Airlines was the principal supplier of cargo and passenger carriage on IRON MAIDEN's 2008 "Somewhere Back in Time" tour. The tour covered 20 cities in 13 countries over a period of three months. Astraeus Airlines converted a Boeing 757-200 into a combi aircraft with 20 business class seats with a seat pitch of 59 inches and 54 premium economy seats with 39 inches. The rear passenger cabin was converted to carry additional band equipment weighing up to 6.5 tonnes.

Following extensive planning and preparation, a dedicated crew accompanied the tour to deliver a bespoke service to meet the individual needs of the passengers whilst onboard.

"As a professional pilot and a professional singer with IRON MAIDEN, there was no doubt that Astraeus Airlines were the people for the job," stated Bruce Dickinson. "The reliability was superb, and the outcome exceeded the band's wildest expectations. A unique airline, for a unique experience. Astraeus Airlines made it happen!"

Following on from the success of the 2008 tour, IRON MAIDEN chartered the combi aircraft again for the final leg of their "Somewhere Back in Time" 2009 world tour. This tour saw the aircraft take in 30 countries over a period of 54 days.

Astraeus Airlines will be operating the IRON MAIDEN 2011 world tour. This will see the airline taking in some new stops such as Singapore, Jakarta in Indonesia, Seoul-Incheon International Airport in South Korea, Belem in Brazil and Tampa in Florida.

Dickinson, who is a longstanding pilot with Astraeus, told CNN.com in a 2007 interview, "Aviation's been kicking around my family for as long as I can remember; my uncle was in the RAF. But I always thought I was too stupid. I was useless at maths and majored in history at university, so I thought history majors don't become pilots, let alone rock stars. And then our drummer learned to fly so I said if a drummer can learn to fly then anyone can."

He added, "I never dreamed I would end up flying an airliner. I ended up flying IRON MAIDEN around on tour in a little eight-seat, pressurized, twin-engine plane. Basically we were flying round all the world's major airports, flew across the Atlantic and back, which was quite an adventure. At the end I thought I really want to fly something bigger, but I can't afford it — I can't buy my own 707. If I'm going to do that I have to get a job."

On how the thrill of piloting a 757 compares to taking to the stage with MAIDEN:

"It's a different kind of buzz. Obviously you aren't leaping around the flight deck yelling and screaming, but you have to manage situations... Flying at 35,000 feet is an internal thing, really. Whereas 35,000 people, that's just showing off."

On whether he will be hanging up his leopard-skin spandex forever:

"I could never contemplate giving up music. I have to say I've always been interested in planes, the only difference is I started to fly the darn things 15 years ago. I don't see why I should give up either of them. People say 'Why do you need a second job?' I say 'Why do you need to breathe?'"

Photos below courtesy of Astraeus Airlines

(Thanks: Tadeu Salgado / Agenda do Headbanger)

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