A pilot in South Africa made an emergency landing after a highly venomous cobra was discovered hiding under his seat on Monday.
Rudolf Erasmus had four passengers on board the light aircraft during Monday's flight when he felt “something cold” slide across his lower back. He glanced down to see the head of a fairly large Cape Cobra “receding back under the seat,” he said.
“It was as if my brain didn't know what was going on,” he told The Associated Press.
After taking a moment to compose himself, he informed his passengers of the slippery stowaway.
“There was a moment of stunned silence,” he said. Everyone stayed cool, especially the pilot.
Erasmus called air traffic control for permission to make an emergency landing in the town of Welkom in central South Africa.
He still had to fly for another 10 to 15 minutes. He landed the plane safely with the snake by his feet.
“I kept looking down to see where it was. It was happy under the seat," Erasmus said. “I don't have a big fear of snakes but I normally don't go near them.”
Cape Cobras are one of Africa ’s most dangerous cobra species because of the potency of their venom.
Welkom snake handler Johan de Klerk and a team of aviation engineers searched the plane for the best part of two days but still hadn't found the cobra by Wednesday and were uncertain if it had sneaked out unnoticed.
The engineering company Erasmus works for wanted its plane back in the city of Mbombela in northern South Africa. So, he had to fly it back home, a 90-minute voyage with the possibility that the cobra was still onboard.
The theory is snake found its way on board before Erasmus and his passengers took off from the town of Worcester in the Western Cape province, where Cape Cobras are usually found in South Africa.
It might have got out in Welkom or might still be hiding somewhere deep in the plane.
“I hope it finds somewhere to go,” Erasmus said. “Just not my aircraft.”