Meet Dan Alpiner, a helicopter pilot who was helping out in the massive Creek Fire in the wilderness of central California last year.
He was dropping load after load of water on the blaze, and midway through his flight, he got a reminder of who he was working so hard to help.
He was about 200 feet up in the helicopter, just about to pour out another bucket of water when he saw something move over by the open window.
“I saw this flutter out of the corner of my eye,” Dan told The Dodo. “I looked over, a little spooked, and we locked eyes.”
It was a wild owl! A beautiful one! It managed to find its way inside the aircraft and took a seat next to him/
“He just kind of chilled out,” Dan said. “I was really surprised. He was super friendly — like he just wanted to say hi.”
But this didn’t deter Dan as he continued his firefighting, but no with a new partner: “Well, let’s go do some work here, buddy.”
The owl stayed for a full two rounds of refillings and drops, Dan wasn’t sure what quite to make of the meeting, but he will certainly never forget it.
“I’m still trying to comprehend it. It was just unreal,” Alpiner said. “It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of things.”