Plane Spotting Iron Maiden’s “Ed Force One” at LAX

Living close to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I enjoy seeing the planes coming from the east making their final approach for landing when I’m driving on the 405 Freeway. Or when we’re walking our dogs on the Strand in Manhattan Beach, we try to guess the plane type and carrier as we watch flights depart to the west over the ocean.

When private planes and charters come to LAX, they are often parked on the south side of the airport, near the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and Imperial Highway (aka the 105 Freeway). I wonder sometimes who the planes belong to, or who is flying in them. On Sunday, when I saw a plane there, it was clear who was in town.

As I drove north on Sepulveda, heading to Santa Monica, I saw a 747 plane with Iron Maiden livery. Iron Maiden was in town to perform two shows over the weekend at the Forum in Inglewood. Returning home a few hours later, I decided to try to get a picture of it. It was difficult – you could see it perfectly from the streets but it was parked at a busy intersection with a highway overhead so views of it were obstructed.

I finally parked, walked down an incline, and was able to take this photo – unfortunately the 105 Freeway is blocking the full view of the plane.

Zoomed in view of Iron Maiden plane parked at LAX.

Zoomed in view of Iron Maiden plane parked at LAX.

I could see some people walking along the green fence taking pictures of the plane (pictured above in the distance, closer to the plane), so I looped around to attempt parking near them with the intention of then walking back to take photos. Unfortunately, they were parked on the side of an off-ramp, in a no parking zone, and as I pulled over to park, I noticed a police car behind me. I thought better of parking there and moved.

I next went to Imperial Avenue in El Segundo. This street parallels Imperial Highway, but instead of being on the same level as LAX, the land is hilly, so there are some spots that provide excellent views of LAX and the southern runways.

On Imperial Avenue in El Segundo looking over LAX

On Imperial Avenue in El Segundo looking over LAX. The building on the far left, with all the planes parked outside, is the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The first five planes closest to me are all A380s.

A KLM 747 taxis on the runway at LAX.

A KLM 747 taxis on the runway at LAX.

Here is a map of where the plane was parked and where I was standing to watch the runways. It is a great location for plane spotting, watching both the incoming flights from the east and then seeing planes depart to the west.

While I was too far from the parked plane to get a good photo (and it was obscured by other buildings at LAX from this vantage point), there was a large crowd gathered with several people wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts, presumably from the concert the night before. The gentleman standing next to me, Ron Monroe, had a DSLR camera with a large lens, and he was taking pictures of all the planes departing, so I asked him about the planes, identifying them, and watching them land. He said this spot usually only has a few people watching and most of the people there today were there for the Iron Maiden plane. Ron took some beautiful photos of Ed Force One departing LAX that I shared below. I encourage you to visit his gallery on Flickr (he also took photos of Ed Force One landing at LAX a few days earlier. You can see them here, here and here).

/Air Atlanta Icelandic, Boeing 747-400, "Ed Force One" Photo credit: ©Ron Monroe

Air Atlanta Icelandic, Boeing 747-400, "Ed Force One" Photo credit: ©Ron Monroe

Once the plane started moving from its parking spot, there seemed to be excitement in the gathered crowd. I learned from some of the other onlookers that Iron Maiden’s lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson pilots the plane, and the plane is called Ed Force One.

After about twenty minutes, the plane was at the end of the runway and started moving towards take off, and I was able to capture the departure on video.

Iron Maiden and their crew was headed to Tokyo for their next concerts there as part of their Book of Souls world tour. Interestingly, after I shared this post, I saw an article about an associate curator at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology who helped translate the band’s Book of Souls song titles into ancient Maya hieroglyphs, two of which appear on the tail fin of Ed Force One. You can read more about that here.

Immediately after the plane departed, the crowd dissipated. One woman, wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt, said, “I want to cry. It’s all over now.”

Did you see the Iron Maiden plane at LAX? Have you ever visited an airport to watch planes taking-off and landing? Let me know in the comments below!

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