Iron Maiden’s “Book of Souls” tour, which wrapped up last month in Germany, saw one of the hardest working bands in showbiz jet between 50 shows on six continents onboard a customized 747-400, chartered by Air Charter Service (ACS) and operated by Air Atlanta.
The 747-400, with “Eddie,” the rotting-corpse mascot of the band proudly splattered across the jet’s tail, ferried the band around the world, along with 22 tonnes of the band’s gear. Best of all, the heavy-metal widebody, nicknamed “Ed Force One,” was piloted throughout by none other than the lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, who is also chairman of MRO firm Cardiff Aviation.
Iron Maiden brought ACS on board late last year to handle the logistics of the tour. The 2016 “Book of Souls” tour was particularly challenging, given the size of the jet, the numerous stops and the unique challenges of moving Maiden’s set, which included Maya-inspired architecture, a massive effigy of Eddie, an inflatable goat/devil and more. Music magazine Revolver called the set “as impressive as they’ve ever had, with a jungle vibe complete with hanging ropes from the ceiling and fiery tiki torches lit in the background.”
All those platforms and ramps that Dickinson runs around on? Yeah, those had to fly. The ACS team worked with Air Atlanta to make “the thousands of necessary arrangements for the 48 legs in the 21 countries that the tour was visiting,” ACS said.
ACS was responsible for arranging flight permissions outside of Europe and fuel, as well as handling agents. “Arranging such things on an ad-hoc basis is very different to a scheduled carrier, [which] lands at the same airport at the same time every day,” the charter service explained. “At most airports, ACS had to deal with three separate companies – the cargo handlers for the 22 tonnes of stage equipment, VIP handling agents for the band and their ‘Killer Krew’, as well as regular check-in desks for anyone else that was on board.” Group Commercial Director Matt Purton explained that, “we must have dealt with more than 100 different handling agents and 300 other suppliers over the course of the four months that we were involved in the tour.”
During the tour, the British metal band and ACS also contended with untold complications, including an incident involving a loose steering pin and an airport vehicle, which damaged two engines and the undercarriage of Ed Force One. With the gear packed up for now, however, ACS and the band are calling the tour a great success.