3 min read

Owl Flies Inside Helicopter To Join Pilot Battling Massive Wildfire

"I’m still trying to comprehend it. It was just unreal."

Dan Alpiner is a helicopter pilot who’s been helping battle the massive Creek Fire burning in the central California wilderness.

The other day, while dropping bucketload after bucketload of water on the blaze, Alpiner got a stunning reminder of whose habitat he and other fire crews have been working so hard to save.

Sky Aviation

Alpiner was hovering about 200 feet above the ground in his helicopter, readying to unleash a bucket of water on the fire, when he noticed a quick movement from an open side window.

"I saw this flutter out of the corner of my eye," Alpiner told The Dodo. "I looked over, a little spooked, and we locked eyes."

Amazingly, a wild owl had suddenly entered the aircraft, coming to rest on the seat next to Alpiner.

"He just kind of chilled out," Alpiner said. "I was really surprised. He was super friendly — like he just wanted to say hi."

Dan Alpiner

Determined to continue the task of fighting the fire, Alpiner carried on as normal, telling his new copilot: "Well, let’s go do some work here, buddy." 

The owl remained by Alpiner's side for two refillings and drops. He then flew out the window not far from the spot the helicopter had been when he entered.

Alpiner's not sure what to make of that unbelievable encounter, but it's one he'll never forget.

"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."