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Fans turn out in force ahead of Bruce's Iron Maiden transatlantic voyage

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MORE than 200 fans and plane spotters turned up at Cardiff Airport to see heavy metal band Iron Maiden off on their world tour.

The Book of Souls World Tour will visit more than 30 countries, from the USA to Lithuania, beginning in Florida on February 24. Their home for the next seven months will be customised Boeing 747 named Ed Force One which lead singer Bruce Dickinson will be piloting.

Fans turned out in force to wave off the band despite the bitterly cold wind.

The Powell family has been down every day it has been in the airport. Mum Sarah Powell said: “This is a family event! My son Ross really likes them too. We have been down the past three days. We saw it coming two days ago and taking off today.

The Powell Family have been down all three days

The Powell Family have been at Cardiff Airport all three days

Matthew Williams, 48, who has seen Iron Maiden five times, believes the band transcends musical genres. He said: “It doesn’t matter if you are not a heavy metal fan – they put on such a great show and engage with the audience, you have to see them.

“They have stayed so popular because they haven’t changed how they write their music, they have been uncompromising.

“They haven’t followed trends or fashions and they have always looked after the fans before anything else.”

People have travelled from as far away as Neath, Bridgend and Bristol, and it was not just fans of the band who turned up. Many plane spotters also attended because of the unique design of the 747.

Oliver Quinton, a student from the University of the West of England came across the bridge from Bristol to see Ed Force One.

Gavin Fleming and Simon Ashman have seen over 40 Iron Maiden gigs between them

Gavin Fleming and Simon Ashman have seen 40 Iron Maiden gigs between them

He said: “I am an enormous plane spotter. It’s pretty cool. It is not a colour scheme you see on many planes, with its tail design. Both my parents are air traffic controllers so I had to come down to see it.”

The flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida will be 10 hours long. It will also be Bruce Dickinson’s first time piloting Ed Force One. He is the Chairman of Cardiff Aviation, a Cardiff-based plane maintenance company, and has been critical of Welsh Government’s Enterprise Zone for Aviation.

He said: “Calling it an enterprise zone is a joke, it has no value or meaning. There is no money or advantage from it. The fact that there is a strong aviation sector is nothing to do with the Welsh Government, but that people happen to live here.”

Gavin Fleming and Simon Ashman

Gavin Fleming and Simon Ashman

Adam and Sarah Mitchell from Neath.

Adam and Sarah Mitchell from Neath.

Anthony Pritchard from Bridgend

Anthony Pritchard from Bridgend

I have seen them over 30 times since the 80’s. They are still popular because they haven’t outgrown their fans. They don’t come across as rock stars they come across as fans themselves and they just write great music.” “Have seen them 7 times between us. Their energy is amazing. You see them on stage and think ‘I hope I can jump around like that when I’m 50.” “I have come from Bridgend because the plane is brilliant, absolutely incredible. I am supposed to be in uni but have skipped it come down.”