As a young girl, Hannah Beevers used to love visiting Whitby Regatta and looking up in awe at the Red Arrows display.
Little did she know that some 20 years later she would be in the RAF – and one of those jets would be her workplace!
Senior Aircraftwoman Smoker – she got married in April – is one of three RAF photographers attached to the world famous aerobatics team.
And this year the 27-year-old is flying in the back seat of Red 10, piloted by Squadron Leader Mike Ling, capturing thrilling images of the team in action. When not in the air she takes photos and video of them from the ground.
Born at Scarborough Hospital, she grew up in Staithes and went to Seton Primary School and then Caedmon School and Whitby Community College. At Cleveland College of Art and Design in Middlesbrough she achieved a BTEC in Media and an A Level in Photography, and came away from Lincoln University with a BA in Media Production. After a gap year travelling, she joined the RAF in 2013 as a photographer.
“At school I was never interested in maths or science or English, I was just mad keen on photography and film.
“I’m not from a military background, but after uni I saw an advert for an RAF photographer job and friends encouraged me to go for it,” she said from the squadron’s base at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.
“I feel very privileged and lucky to have landed the job with the Red Arrows. At first I worked at RAF Marham and RAF Coningsby doing ground work – pictures of visits, sports events, parts of the aircraft that were faulty.
“But to fly with the Red Arrows and take photos and video from that vantage point is just unreal. I used to watch them at Whitby Regatta every year, but never thought I’d ever be up in one of those jets – I didn’t really have any desire to !”
Sadly for Hannah, the famous red Hawk jets aren’t at the Regatta this year, but she will be in Scarborough on June 24, videoing their display from the ground during the town’s Armed Forces Day.
“For safety reasons no-one can fly with the pilots during the aerobatics displays, so I’m only in the back seat when we’re doing flypasts or transitting (travelling to and from locations). But the pilots do some basic manouevres so I can get those sorts of shots, and we can be pulling about 4G [four times the force of gravity].”
Hannah says she has never felt sick in the aircraft: “I remember my first flight, a familiarisation trip in an RAF Typhoon, I was nervous of being sick or passing out, but it was so exciting.”
But the job has some unique problems. “You’re strapped in tight so it’s very restrictive and you have to stretch a lot. It’s difficult to move your arms around, and the helmet, with visor down, makes it tricky looking through the viewfinder sometimes – it’s just a standard Canon 5D camera. With the G forces it can be tiring.”
Hannah’s work is used by the MoD to promote the team around the world.
After her weeks of training at the start of this year, and then her wedding to James, whom she met at uni, 2017 will get more and more exciting as the team’s season at home and abroad begins.
2017 is an exciting year for the camera fanhe Red Arrows has a support staff of 120 people, and those who tour with the pilots are known as the Circus Blues. Hannah - “Circus 10” - and one of the engineers are the only women in the team.
So far, 2017 has been a thrilling year. After training and the medicals, she is currently with the team for five weeks in Greece. And last month there was the small matter of a wedding, to James, whom she met at uni. And Hannah is making the most of it - the team’s three photographers rotate, so next year she will be ground-based, and on backup for the cockpit lensman. She signed up with the RAF for 12 years.