A South African pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after a 5ft deadly cobra slithered past his side and curled up under his seat.
Rudolph Erasmus was flying four passengers in a private plane at 11,000ft when he said he felt a “cold sensation” on his hip. Thinking that his water bottle might have been leaking, Erasmus looked down instead at the sight of a highly venomous snake disappearing underneath him.
Concerned that he might cause panic onboard his compact Beechcraft Baron 58, the pilot took a moment to compose himself. “I told them: ‘Listen, the snake in underneath my seat. It is inside the cockpit, so we are going to have to execute a landing as fast as possible,” he told the local news outlet Lowvelder. “Luckily, everyone remained calm.”
A bite from a Cape cobra – the species Erasmus believes he unwittingly took on as an extra passenger – can be lethal. While considered calm, the Cape is seen as one of Africa’s most dangerous cobras.
Erasmus radioed his emergency and was quickly cleared to make a landing at the nearest airport.
After touching down and with everyone safely out of the aircraft, Erasmus said he stood on the wing of the plane and moved the seat forward to find the snake still resting underneath it. “It was quite a big fellow.”
The South African civil aviation commissioner, Poppy Khoza, praised Erasmus for his “great airmanship indeed, which saved all lives on board”.
Source : Theguardian