OK, you sentimental sods out there: If uplifting animal drama gets you misty, get the Kleenex ready, because this comes straight from the Free Willy department. French falconer (eagler?) Jacque Olivia Travail spent a year-and-a-half training his nine-pound pet bald eagle, Shercane, how to fly. After all his training, Shercane finally got his chance to lift off and fly like, well, an eagle.
But for Shercane's marquee flight, Travail chose a kingly launchpad—the summit of Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest point. Despite the high intimidation factor of taking off for the first time from 15,781 ft., Shercane succeeded, and his master came along for the ride in a paraglider. Cue the swelling strings:
Even though the video is in French, the bond between man and eagle remains clear in any language, as the 14-year-old Shercane seems to relish his flight but also returns to Traivail's arm for support now and again. Travail hopes that Shercane's flight will show that eagles can learn to fly at any age, and stand a chance at reintroduction into the wild.
I'm sure there's a political metaphor somewhere in there about the proud American eagle learning to fly again with the help of the Frenchies, but I'm not about to try and make it.