IRON MAIDEN, whose new studio album The Book of Souls, their first for 5 years, will be released worldwide next week on Sept 4, are taking touring to a new level using a Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet (aka Queen of the Skies) for their World Tour next year. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson is currently in training for his licence to fly the massive four engine jet, which is almost twice the size and over three times the weight of the Boeing 757 used on previous tours in 2008/9/11 (see the comparison grid below of the Evolution of Ed Force One). The new Ed Force One will take the band, crew and over 12 tons of equipment more than 55,000 miles (88,500km) around the planet with concerts in six of the seven continents (Australasia, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Europe) with The Book of Souls World Tour 2016 expected to visit around 35 countries.
Details of the precise schedule are currently being finalised and we will commence announcements of specific dates for the different territories in a few weeks’ time. However we can reveal that The Book Of Souls World Tour will open in the U.S.A in late February with Ed Force One flying in for three shows before, in early March, heading into Central America visiting MEXICO, followed by a much anticipated first ever concert in EL SALVADOR and a return to COSTA RICA. Ed Force One then proceeds into South America for concerts in ARGENTINA, CHILE and a number of shows in BRAZIL before flying back to the USA at the end of March for ten more cities covering the USA and, of course, CANADA in the first two weeks of April.
A long awaited return to JAPAN follows later in April, and then the band are delighted to be playing their first ever shows in CHINA before heading to NEW ZEALAND and AUSTRALIA for a comprehensive tour during the first half of May. Shows in SOUTH AFRICA, Maiden’s first visit there with Bruce, will be the last port of call before Ed Force One heads to EUROPE for a very extensive tour starting in late May and finishing in early August. This will the first time Ed Force One has ever been used on any European Tour dates (other than Bruce’s Fan Club trips to shows) and will provide transport there for at least for the first few weeks.
Bruce Dickinson comments, “When the opportunity arose from my friends at Air Atlanta Icelandic to lease a 747 for The Book of Souls World Tour, of course we jumped at the chance, who wouldn’t? The greatest benefit of travelling in a 747 is that because of its colossal size and freight capacity we can carry our stage production and all our stage equipment and desks in the cargo hold without having to make any of the immense structural modifications needed to do this on the previous 757, the extent of which fans will have noted on the Flight 666 DVD. Although in reality we cannot carry much more gear the savings in complexity, time and cost make using the 747 even more practical. All we will need to do is “paint” it and move a few seats around, with the added advantage that there is much more room for band and crew – our Krew can almost get a row of seats each to catch up on sleep on the flights! Furthermore, it is marginally faster 0.85 MACH and the range of around 7000NM (13,000 km) is much greater which means we will not have to make the refuelling stops we needed to with the 757.
“However, even though we have worked out the logistics of taking a plane of that immense size out on tour, I still have to learn to fly it before we can go anywhere! So, I’m currently doing my training to qualify as a pilot and Captain on a Boeing 747. I’m doing this at Cardiff Aviation, my aircraft maintenance facility in Wales, where we recently took possession of a rather splendid 747 simulator which I can’t wait to get practising on!
“We’re all really excited at the thought of bringing our brand new tour to fans who have never seen us play live before, and of course re-visiting all our old friends again too. You can rest assured we are all working hard to put together a spectacular show for our fans.”
The 747 is the world’s most recognisable airliner on account of its distinctive hump. With its impressive dimensions of 70.7m (232ft) length, 19.4m (63.6ft) height and a jaw-dropping wing span of 64.4m (211ft) this double-decker aircraft has a range of 13,450km (7,262nm).