Washington D.C.-based pilot Capt. Mario Lopes set out to surprise his son on April 14, when he learned he’d be returning from deployment in the Middle East.
The 27-year United Airlines veteran jumped at the chance to pilot a military flight to Norfolk, Virginia that same day, ABC News reported.
“I told my wife that this couldn’t be a coincidence…No one could confirm or deny if he would actually be a passenger on my aircraft, but I knew I had to take the chance and find out,” Lopes said.
As the big moment approached, Capt. Lopes says he felt very anxious. He hadn’t seen his son – First Lt. Mario Lopes- in so long so he knew this was going to be a very emotional reunion.
Flying since he was 17, Lopes said the reunion on this flight was ‘by far’ the most important to him in his almost three-decades-long career, the Daily Mail reported.
Lopes finally made his way onto the plane, stood behind his son and said: ‘First Lieutenant Lopes, what are you doing on my aircraft?’
The usual humming sounds of a flight about to take off in the background pierced by this sweet, unforgettable moment between a father and son. The two embraced for as long as they possibly could — not wanting to let go. They stopped for a few seconds to shake hands and say a few words to one another– but then continued hugging.
Capt. Lopes confessed later he recruited his crew members to help with the surprise. He got his lead flight attendant to distract his son with a bag of his favorite cookies — while the captain made his way on board the aircraft.
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