His father, Captain Mario Lopes, a pilot for United Airlines, piloted the return flight his son was on—he knew the solider would be returning from Kuwait on April 14.
According to Fox59, Lopes learned there was an opportunity to fly a military flight back to Norfolk, Virginia.
He then added it to his schedule immediately in hopes that his son would be among the soldiers on the plane.
“I told my wife that this couldn’t be a coincidence,” Lopes told ABC News. “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.”
His son indeed was on the plane.
Lopes remained hidden until he felt it was the appropriate time to reveal himself to his son.
In the meantime, crew members assisted the captain with his plan.
“I gave my lead flight attendant Audrey a bag of Mario’s favorite cookies to distract him while I tried to sneak onboard,” Lopes told ABC News.
Just before the flight took off, Lopes revealed himself.
“I made my way behind him and asked, ‘First Lieutenant Lopes, what are you doing on my aircraft?'”
“When he turned around we embraced for as long as I could hold him. I cannot express the emotions I felt holding my son after not seeing him for so long.”
He then added, “I have been flying since I was 17, I’ve worked for multiple companies prior to my 27-year career at United. I’ve had a lot of memories, but this flight is by far the most important to me.”
The moment was captured on camera and was then uploaded to YouTube. As of May 3rd, it has more than 700,000 views.
“Apparently this video has made a lot of people cry,” Lopes told a Fox affiliate. “It made me cry.”