Iron Maiden is one of the longest running and most popular rock groups of all time, and in 2025 it will complete 50 years on the road. To move from one location to another, the band used to use their own plane, called Ed Force One. And it is about this aircraft that we will talk about in this special FreeGameGuide content.
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The Ed Force One, in fact, was not just a plane. There were three. The name was born from a combination between the character Eddie, who appears on all the covers of Iron’s discography, and Air Force One, the official plane of the President of the United States. The choice was made through an online poll on the band’s own website.
None of them, however, are currently in business. The Boeing 747-400, the last example of the Ed Force One to transport the band around the world, was retired in 2022, almost at the same time that Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron, announced that he would no longer fly the aircraft (yes, he is a professional pilot and was the captain on several of the group’s flights).
But, after all, what happened to Ed Force One? What happened to Iron Maiden’s plane? Did they become scrap metal, were they sold to a collector or are they sitting in a hangar somewhere? That’s what we’ll find out next.
Models of Ed Force One planes
The first Ed Force One was a Boeing 757-200 from Astraeus Airlines, a company that had the lead singer and leader of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, on its staff of professional pilots. It flew under the official prefix G-OJIB, and was used on the Somewhere Back in Time tour, which toured the world between 2008 and 2009. Its story became the subject of a documentary, named “Iron Maiden: Flight 666”.
The second Ed Force One was also a Boeing 757-200, this one under the prefix G-STRX. Hired by Iron for The Final Frontier tour in 2011, the plane also got its own documentary, called “Behind the Beast”, in 2012.
Iron Maiden’s first two Ed Force Ones had to undergo structural modifications before joining the band. After all, in addition to weighing 57.84 tons each, they needed reinforcements to carry the group members, the entourage and the 12 tons of equipment.
The third and last official Ed Force One was even more imposing: a Boeing 747-400, which flew under the prefix F-GITH, from Air France, but arrived at Iron from Air Atlanta Icelandic. It measured 70.7 meters in length and weighed almost 180 tons.
The Ed Force One “Terceiro” was used by Iron Maiden on The Book Of Souls tour, and even passed through 5 Brazilian cities during its world tour in 2016. In total, there were more than 88,500 kilometers traveled in trips through 35 countries until the end of the show season.
What happened to the three Ed Force One?
The fates of the three Iron Maiden planes were different. The first generation Ed Force One, as soon as it ceased serving the rock band, was leased to Saudi Arabian Airlines and later to Thomas Cook Airlines before being sold to FedEx in 2012.
The second Ed Force One had a sadder end, and ended up sitting in a warehouse in Phoenix until it was dismantled and sold for scrap metal. The third and final Iron Maiden plane was returned to the former owner in 2016 and, in 2022, delivered to Air Salvage to be dismantled and also turned into scrap.
Commander Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson has always been passionate about aviation, even before joining Iron Maiden and, in 1998, he got his license. Since then, he has also accumulated the role of Commander Dickinson (although he does not like to be called that).
Bruce Dickinson has piloted everything from a small Cessna 152 to the gigantic 747-400. Retired from this position since 2022, today he is connected to aviation through Caerdav, a company he founded for aircraft maintenance in 2012, under the name Cardiff Aviation. “Now I’m a driver in the back seat,” he joked.
During his more than 20-year career as a professional pilot, Dickinson has accumulated approximately 7,000 flight hours. “Every boy has a fantasy. My heroes were submarine captains, test pilots, astronauts and fighter pilots,” he told Business Jet.
Curiosities about Ed Force One planes
All are very expensive: According to information from Metal Hammer, the first two Ed Force One were valued at around US$ 65 million, while the last Iron Maiden plane cost a trifle of US$ 250 million.
“Temporary” Ed Force One: In 2018, Embraer invited vocalist Bruce Dickinson to try out a Legacy 500 executive jet. The company stamped the name Iron Maiden and Eddie’s face on the sides. At the end of the flight, “Commander Dickinson” autographed the plane with the message: “Best Embraer Jet. Well Done” (“Best Embraer jet. Well done”).
Homage to the “Beast”: The date of Ed Force One’s last official trip on an Iron Maiden plane, not by chance, was on 06/06/2016, a clear allusion to the song “The Number of The Beast”.
How was the mascot Eddie “born”?
Those who are passionate about rock, especially the classics, may not even like the sound of Iron Maiden, but they certainly know Eddie “The Head”, the mascot that illustrates all the covers of the immense discography. But do you know how Ed was “born”, and who was he inspired by?
Eddie was just a head in the beginning. Hence the “surname” The Head (The Head, in Portuguese). The work of designer Derek Riggs, the most famous mascot in the rock world was almost an “inspirational muse” of the punk movement.
According to the wikimetal website, Riggs was inspired by the punk movement to design Eddie, who had a decaying face to illustrate that the youth of the time “was being wasted and thrown away”. The problem is that no band agreed to “adopt” Eddie after a year of incessant searches.
Then came the invitation to a meeting with Iron Maiden. The band fell in love with the macabre figure and Eddie became a world-renowned and idolized monster from 1980 onwards, when he illustrated the cover of the single Running Free.
In addition to Derek Riggs, other illustrators brought Eddie to life on Iron Maiden albums: Melvyn Grant and Hugh Syme. Another curiosity is that Nicko McBrain, drummer who provisionally replaced Clive Burr in 1982, made his debut in the band “dressed” in an Eddie mask, precisely so as not to show fans that the original lineup had been modified.