Iron Maiden’s custom Boeing 747-400 takes off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Bands customizing big transport jets for tours is nothing new. For instance, Alice Cooper, the Allman Brothers Band, Deep Purple, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, and Peter Frampton all made use of The Starship (a Boeing 720) back in the 1970s. Legendary metal band Iron Maiden has turned the volume up to 11 with their custom-liveried “Ed Force One” — named after their evil mascot, Eddie.
The long list of cities on the tour is a cool addition to the livery.
What makes Iron Maiden’s tour planes even more unusual is that they’ve been piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson, who holds a transport pilot license. Iron Maiden’s last tour made use of a customized 757-200.
After the band’s April 11 show in Tacoma, WA, they made the short hop up to Paine Field in Everett, WA on April 12 for a VIP tour of their bird’s birthplace, the Boeing assembly plant, before leaving the same day for their next tour stop in Denver (Editor’s note: I got to see the beautiful #EdForceOne fly over my Denver office on departure!). Before they left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I was able to be there, on the ground, and get some up-close photos of the plane.
ANA’s Star Wars R2-D2 arrives to gate S16 at SeaTac. This was the first time the aircraft had been deployed to Seattle.
My initial assignment, with AirlineReporter long ago, was to cover the arrival of the first ANA 787 to Seattle. It is befitting that my long history with AirlineReporter officially ends with another ANA 787; this time though it is the ultimate 787 – the R2-D2 Star Wars jet.
The special 787-9 rolled out in October and began service later that month to Vancouver. Now that it is operating out in the wild, I eagerly awaited my opportunity to spot it in my current hometown of Seattle. Being a Star Wars and Astromech droid fan myself (R5s are better than R2s in my opinion), how could I not take this on?
A Boy Scout walks by an Alaska 737 at Aviation Day
Passion, dedication, and giving back to the community. These are the main things that really made Alaska Airlines Aviation Day shine. Since I have been running AirlineReporter, for almost eight years, I have met many people in the airline business and aviation. Almost all have a strong passion, but no matter where I travel and who I meet, it is hard to find people that are more dedicated than those who live and work in the Pacific Northwest.
Multiple planes on display at Alaska’s Aviation Day 2015
We have deep roots in aviation here, and I think one prime example of this is Alaska Airlines’ Aviation Day. This yearly event, which is only open to formal youth groups, allows guests to experience and learn about aviation and potential careers in the field. I was invited to this year’s event, and although there were plenty of amazing things to see and do, I was more in awe of all the wonderful people who work hard to make this event happen.
Taxiway Mike at Sea-Tac Airport is closed during reconstruction of runway 16C/34C – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Last week, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the construction currently in progress on Runway 16C/34C at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, aka Sea-Tac). The center runway closed on May 4th for a complete reconstruction and is scheduled to re-open October 30th, so the project is already well underway.
At 9,426 feet in length, 16C/34C is Sea-Tac’s second-longest runway, consisting of over 4,000 concrete panels, each measuring 20 feet x 18.75 feet. Needless to say, reconstructing a runway is a huge undertaking, so there was plenty to see on our tour!
During construction, it is business as usual on the other two runways and the open taxiways – Photo: Lauren Darnielle | AirlineReporter
Originally built in 1969, 16C/34C is the oldest runway at Sea-Tac. It was designed to last 20 years, so it has more than done its duty. Upon completion of this reconstruction project, all three of Sea-Tac’s runways will have been constructed or rebuilt within the last seven years. 16R/34L (the hotly-contested “third runway”) was built in 2008, and the longest runway, 16L/34R, was reconstructed in 2009.
“We continue to grow at a tremendous rate and the reconstruction of Sec-Tac’s center runway is vital to serve the demands of our region with progressive steps to improve safety, efficiency and environmental stewardship”, said Mike Ehl, Director, Aviation Operations. “This will bring all of our runways up to modern standards for reliable use for decades to come.”