Pilot makes emergency landing after finding snake in cabin
Rudolph Erasmus, a South African pilot, was forced to land an emergency landing after he noticed a cobra underneath his seat at 11,000 feet in the air.
Erasmus had four passengers on board the light aircraft during the flight on Monday, April 3, 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.
He told The Associated Press that it was like his brain wasn’t aware of what was happening.
After taking some time to compose himself , he told his passengers about the snake on board.
He said, “There was a momentary stunned silence.” Everyone remained cool.
Erasmus called air traffic control to request permission for an emergency landing in Welkom, central South Africa. He had to continue flying for 10 to 15 more minutes, landing the plane with the snake curled under 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.”
Brian Emmenis, who works at Welkom radio station Gold FM and is also an aviation expert, received a phone call to see if he could help. He called the fire and rescue department, which sent emergency responders and a snake handler to meet the plane at the airport. Emmenis was first at the scene and saw everyone disembark, “visibly shaken,” Emmenis said, but all safe thanks to Erasmus.
“He stayed calm and landed that aircraft with a deadly venomous Cape Cobra curled up underneath his seat,” Emmenis said.
Cape Cobras are one of Africa’s most dangerous cobra species because of the potency of their venom.