RAF engineer from South Yorkshire flies with Red Arrows

A Royal Air Force engineer from South Yorkshire has completed two years flying with the Red Arrows as a member of a handpicked support team.

Sunday, 19th December 2021, 10:23 am

Corporal Daniel Hopkin flew across the United Kingdom and overseas in the backseat of one of the display team’s distinctive fast-jets.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Maltby, is an avionics technician with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

For 2020 and 2021, he was selected to be part of a group known as the Circus – the Red Arrows’ travelling support team.

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In the cockpit

These 10 highly-trained technicians are paired with a pilot for a busy season, flying with them on transit flights away from the display team’s home base and servicing the distinctive Hawk aircraft between sorties, as well as preparing the jets for performances.

Daniel said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be selected to be in the Red Arrows’ Circus team – it’s been an awesome and unique experience.

“To be part of the engineering team with the Red Arrows is an incredible opportunity in itself but this is taken to the next level when you combine it with actually flying in the aircraft as part of this small, highly-skilled group.”

Before joining the RAF in 2012, Daniel attended Maltby Comprehensive School.

Dan Hopkin

During his career, he has worked on a variety of aircraft, including frontline, combat fast-jets such as the Tornado and Typhoon.

Now, as an avionics technician with the Red Arrows, Daniel is among those responsible for the electrical systems on the team’s two-seat BAE Systems Hawks, maintaining equipment ranging from emergency compasses to complex engine control circuits.

Daniel said: “I’d always been interested in flying and aviation at a younger age.

“Joining the Royal Air Force as an engineer was a great way of combining this with the opportunity to see the world.

Dan gives his plane a clean

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“This has certainly been the case throughout my career but definitely since I’ve been posted to the Red Arrows – having been part of the ground team who took part in an 11-week tour of North America in 2019 and then, more recently, as a member of the Circus and being in the aircraft as we transited across the UK, mainland Europe and elsewhere.”

Usually, Circus members only hold the position for one season.

But, with so few displays flown last year due to the pandemic, the same small team remained in place for the most recent campaign to ensure adequate experience and continuity.

As with the Red Arrows’ aircrew, Circus members have individual numbers denoting which pilot they fly with.

For 2020-2021, Daniel was Circus 4, being paired with Red 4 and accompanying his aircraft on transit flights – but not in displays – and ensuring the jet was serviced at each location when operating away from the Red Arrows’ home of RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

The 2021 season, which has recently concluded, involved the Red Arrows carrying out displays across the UK, as millions of people returned to live airshows and events.

Daniel said: “I feel immensely proud to have had the chance to carry out this role and play a part in being ambassadors for the UK overseas.”

For more information on the Red Arrows, follow @rafredarrows on Twitter, like the team’s Facebook page at RAF Red Arrows, view pictures on Instagram @rafredarrows or visit www.raf.mod.uk/reds

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.