This song describes an air battle from the viewpoint of a flying ace. The lyrics and fast-paced style have made the song commonly associated with war, and it appeared in the 1986 film Incident at Channel Q, about a war between headbangers and conservative "straight people".
The first line is "There goes the siren that warns of the air raid." Lead singer Bruce Dickinson had earned the nickname "The Air Raid Siren" for his powerful, never-tiring vocals. He is also a licensed pilot, and since leaving the band in 1993, has flown many commercial flights.
The lyric was partially inspired by the 1976 war film of the same name starring Malcolm McDowell and Christopher Plummer.
The cover for the single was a close-up of Eddie (Iron Maiden's mascot) in a WWII jet. The back of the case showed the jet spiraling the ground, up in flames, smoke spewing from it. The B-side was "King of Twilight."
On the back of the album Somewhere in Time, there is an Aces High Bar.
On the cover art, to the left below the cockpit there is a unique symbol scribbled in white. This is cover art designer Derek Rigg's "logo," which depicts his initials - a mirrored D and an R on the right hand side.
Iron Maiden had already performed two songs about a historical war from the perspective of those being attacked. One was "Invaders," which was set during a Viking sea battle. The other was "Trooper," set during the Crimean War in which the British fought the Russians (see the famous Alfred Lord Tennyson poem The Charge of the Light Brigade). After this, Maiden wrote and performed another song about flying aces in combat, "Tailgunner." "Run to the Hills" was also about a historical war/invasion, but was told from the perspective of both the invaders and the invaded.
This was covered by Children of Bodon for the album A Tribute to the Beast
and Arch Enemy for the album Made In Tribute - A Tribute to The Best Band In A Whole Goddamn World!
Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for all above
"Aces High" was the opening song on four Iron Maiden tours (World Slavery Tour, The Ed Hunter Tour, Somewhere Back in Time World Tour and the 2018-2019 Legacy of the Beast World Tour). The band moved it to the encore on the Maiden England World Tour and the set closer on the 2022 edition of their Legacy of the Beast World Tour.