The Red Arrows are an iconic aerobatics display team based in Lincolnshire that have been performing all over the world for 60 years. In 2018, a Wiltshire man named Bradley Cowtan decided to transfer his love for aviation and the Red Arrows into the virtual world.
As he didn’t have access to a flight simulator, Bradley felt that the Grand Theft Auto video game was the next best thing. The 28-year-old started his YouTube career as a singer songwriter but his gaming videos perfectly replicating Red Arrows displays soon started to take off and, as a result, the Red Sparrows were born.
Bradley said: “Me and one of my other friends just started messing around a bit and made a video out of our game clips just for fun. A few other people became interested and, because no one was doing it, I thought I’d just go for it and make some content out of it.
“We’re all friends in real life now and we weren’t originally. We all still talk to each other on a daily basis and do the odd meet up at air shows and things like that. It’s a really tight-knit group of friends. Especially through lockdown it became pretty much like a family. We support each other through everything.”
Bradley’s YouTube channel ‘The Red Sparrow’ now has more than 250,000 subscribers. The team would always consist of nine pilots, two media people and an in-game security team so they couldn’t get blown up by other players during displays.
The Red Sparrows team haven’t done any displays for a while due to other life commitments as preparation and training could often take weeks or months. At the height of their popularity, the team did an airshow for staff at Grand Theft Auto publisher Rockstar Games. Their videos have even been recognised by real Red Arrows pilots themselves.
Bradley added: “We all have a tremendous respect for the Red Arrows and we’re all very enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. They’ve influenced all of our interests in this type of thing.
“Some of the boys are pursuing scholarships now and some are at university air squadrons. The Red Arrows have directly driven this passion and it’s nice because we’ve passed that passion on to other people as well.”
When asked about a possible return for the Red Sparrows in the future, especially with new game Grand Theft Auto VI on the way, Bradley said: “To be continued. I can’t really say yes and I can’t really say no at this point. I’m just gauging the interest because it’s a lot of work and with family life now it’s hard to commit that much time to it. We’ll see, but it’s not ruled out.”
On a day-to-day basis, Brad trades cryptocurrency and also runs Red Sparrow Media and Consultancy to help people start and grow their own YouTube channel. To contact Brad regarding the consultancy, you can email him at email@example.com.