On a recent flight from New York to South Carolina, a little girl lost a valuable possession -- but it wasn't her luggage or a toy: That special something was one of her bottom teeth.
"I was sleeping on the airplane. My mom woke me up … and we were going to go pick our suitcases up. And I said, 'Mommy, mommy, I think my tooth fell out,'" 6-year-old Lena recalled to "Good Morning America."
Lena said she hadn't expected her tooth to fall out during the flight. According to her mother, Lauren Larmon, they had already been through a couple of long travel days. Their flight on June 17 from New York to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer, South Carolina, a city about 93 miles southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, was their last flight after a 36-hour delay in New York on their way home from Norway.
"We tried to walk back to the airplane, but security was closed. It was 2 a.m.," Lena said, adding that she was "very emotional" and "crying" when she realized what had likely happened.
"I was like, 'We're never gonna find my tooth again!'"
That's when "Captain Josh," as Lena called him, swooped in to save the day.
Usually, Lena said she puts her baby teeth under her pillow for the tooth fairy to pick up. But after losing her tooth in the sky this time, she had nothing to leave behind.
Captain Josh Duchow, seeing Lena's distress, offered to write a note to the tooth fairy himself instead, to explain the situation.
"Dear Tooth Fairy, Lena had a tooth fall out on her flight to Greenville," wrote Duchow, who piloted the flight. "Please take this note in place of her tooth."
He signed the note, "Captain Josh."
Larmon later shared Lena's encounter with Duchow on Facebook and Instagram, writing in the caption, "In a world full of bad airline stories, @united came through when Lena fell asleep on her flight home and woke up without a tooth. Very concerned that The Tooth Fairy would not show up because the tooth is somewhere on the airplane, the pilot saw Lena trying to go back through security to get her tooth and helped her out. Thank you, Captain Josh! I'm sure the Tooth Fairy will accept this note in lieu of a tiny tooth. ✈️"
United Airlines confirmed to "Good Morning America" that Duchow was indeed the pilot for a United Express flight on June 17 from New York to Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP).
"At United, travel isn't about just getting customers from A to B, but creating memorable experiences that make customers excited to fly with us," a United spokesperson said in a statement. "We're proud to see moments like this that underscore our commitment to going above and beyond for our customers and creating an airline where Good Leads the Way."
Afterward, Lena learned the tooth fairy had written back.
"She said, 'Lena, it is OK that you have lost your tooth on the airplane. I will get it. Keep brushing,'" Lena said.
Her message for the tooth fairy now? "Thank you for not being mad at me. And thank you for all my gifts when I lost my teeth. I love you," Lena added.
As for Duchow, Lena said she also wanted to send him a message.
"Thank you to Captain Josh for stepping in and helping me. You were very nice to me and thank you for being nice to me," the young frequent flyer said.
Lena, who lives in Lexington, South Carolina with her family, loves to travel and has already been to 35 countries. She also adores planes and even had her second birthday party at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, South Carolina.
So far, Lena's favorite destinations have been Mexico and Ireland -- and in case you were wondering, her dream is to visit Venezuela one day.
She and her family hope to travel next to Slovakia later this year.