Iron Maiden’s 747, and Other Airborne Rock Stars

Pour one out for Buddy Holly.

Rockstars on Planes
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Iron Maiden’s new Boeing 747 touched down at the U.K.’s Cardiff Airport on February 17, it did so with all the style you’d expect from a jumbo jet belonging one of the world’s biggest metal bands. “Ed Force One,” as the group’s private plane is called, will ferry the band across the planet on their 47-stop “The Book of Souls” tour, with none other than lead singer Bruce Dickenson—not to be confused with The Bruce Dickinson—behind the yoke. (Fun fact: He used to fly 757s for charter airline Astraeus when he served as marketing director.)

But Ed Force One is just the latest in a long line of high-flying rock star rides. Rock ‘n’ roll and the jetliner came of age around the same time, and they each found a wonderful partner in the other. Rockers used planes to spread their fame (and loving) around the world; jets used rock ‘n’ roll to seem even more glamorous. It was a match made in heaven. Or, at least at 35,000 feet.

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Bruce Dickinson crouches in front of his prop plane before flying to Paris in 1998.

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Mick Jagger brushes up on the news between concerts in the Rolling Stones' private jet during their 1975 American tour.

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Michael Jackson arrives in Hamburg on his private plane in 1992.

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Nazareth's Darrell Sweet prays aboard a small private plane flying from Liverpool airport in 1973. 

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Tommy Bolin pretends to read Creem magazine during Deep Purple's tour of Japan in 1975.

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Elton John being Elton John on a private plane, circa 1975.

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Model Jerry Hall on a plane from Scotland with Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones during the Stones' 1982 European Tour.

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The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney and others play a game of cards aboard an airplane in the midst of a tour.

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Billy Joel posing in the cockpit of his tour plane during his 1980 tour of the Midwest.

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Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, David Coverdale, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple pose at the foot of their Starship Jet plane on the 1974 U.S. tour.

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Aerosmith's Steven Tyler dreams on before a concert at Michigan's Pontiac Stadium.

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John Paul Jones of English rock group Led Zeppelin plays a Thomas electric organ behind the bar on "The Starship," a private Boeing 720B airliner used by the band in 1973.

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Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols peruses a magazine on a plane in 1977.

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Elton John travels in a private Boeing jet—complete with piano bar—during his 1974 US tour.

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Keith Richards and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones drink, smoke and chat on board their plane between gigs during the Rolling Stones' 1975 Tour of the Americas.

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Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' private jet during the group's 1975 American tour.