‘Unheard of’: Wild owl rides shotgun as helicopter pilot fights California fire

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Photo courtesy of Sky Aviation

MADERA COUNTY, California (KSEE/KGPE) — An owl joined a helicopter pilot mid-flight while crews worked to help extinguish California’s Creek Fire.

“It’s odd to have an owl enter an aircraft. It’s unheard of to have it enter while the helo is in-flight,” Sky Aviation said.

In what Sky Aviation is calling “an unexplainable and magical miracle,” the owl sat with the pilot for several water drops as the Creek Fire ravaged the owl’s home below.

Then, just as it had arrived — “safe and unannounced” — the owl parted company with pilot Dan Alpiner, who flies the helicopter for the Wyoming-based charter company.

There’s only one photo of the owl, because “it’s not easy to fly a mission and be a photographer at the same time,” Sky Aviation said.

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