Pilot Battling Wildfires Stunned When an Owl Lands in His Helicopter: 'One in a Million Shot'

Pilot Battling Wildfires Stunned When an Owl Lands in His Helicopter: 'One in a Million Shot'

The little owl seemed just as surprised as the pilot was.

On October 11, pilot Dan Alpiner began his flight without a co-pilot, but he got one mid-air, at least for about 10 minutes, before he was left to finish his flight alone. The pilot was helping to drop water in Fresno, California on the Creek Fire when an owl somehow managed to fly into a 16-inch square window in the side of the chopper and just sit down on the back of the co-pilot seat. At first, Alpiner feared the owl might go after him because owls can be onery that way. The pilot figured if the little guy was gutsy enough to fly into a moving helicopter, taking on the human in the aircraft would be easy. However, that wasn't the case.

Alpiner said he remembers thinking, "Please don't attack me." He said that it "kinda spooked me" for a moment, and then they just "kinda locked eyes there." He said that the owl was "chill" and just looking around. Alpiner said that he realized that the owl was just going to hang out for him for a little bit. It ended up staying in the helicopter for about 10 minutes in total before taking off for good. “It basically just got out where it got in,” Alpiner said. “Right when I was doing another drop … looked out and kind of saw him fly off.”


Alpiner acknowledges that he gets to see some cool things doing the kind of work he does, but this is something he will remember for a long time. American Helicopter flight instructor Matthew Dowdy was astonished that it happened as it did. He said that the only way this could have happened is if the helicopter and the bird were both going the same speed. “It would have to be perfect timing,” he said. “As far as the bird going in there, it seems crazy. I guess it is just a daring bird.”


Sky Aviation is the company that Alipiner works for and they agreed with Dowdy, saying that it's very odd to have an owl enter an aircraft, saying “It’s unheard of to have it enter while the helo is in-flight.” The company shared a photo of the owl on social media on Tuesday. As for Alpiner, he put it like this: “It’s an unexplainable and magical miracle for it to stay with you for several water drops, then leave just as it arrived – safe and unannounced.”


It's nice that we got to see this little miracle happen. Watch the video below.


Recommended for you