Snake on board! A cobra appears in the pilot’s cockpit near the pilot and makes a hasty landing

(CNN) — South African officials have celebrated the bravery of the pilot who landed the plane safely after realizing a venomous cobra had latched onto his body mid-flight.

Pilot Rudolph Erasmus told CNN that he was traveling in a small plane with four colleagues on Monday when he felt “a cold sensation … under his shirt in the groin area”.

“At first, I thought my water bottle was leaking,” Erasmus recounted. “When I turned to my left and looked down, I saw the head of the snake retreating under my seat.”

“I was stunned and silent for a moment,” he said. “To be really honest, it was like my brain didn’t want to register what was happening. It was a moment of disbelief, I think.”

Before leaving for the first leg of the multi-stop journey, Erasmus said he asked some people at the airport “who said they saw this cobra hiding under the wing of the plane and they suspected it had crawled into the engine cover.”.

After an unsuccessful search inside the plane, “we assumed the snake had gotten out and gone on its merry way,” he said.

Two people look inside a plane at Welkom Airport in Welkom, South Africa, where pilot Rudolph Erasmus found a poisonous snake under his seat mid-flight.

“A Little Circumstance”

But the snake seems to have been hidden and came out of its shelter in mid-air.

The pilot told passengers he had a “minor situation” with air traffic controllers and landed the plane in a nearby area. All five people on board were unhurt and the snake was found “in a nice little bundle” under the pilot’s seat, Erasmus said.

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According to the South African Civil Aviation Authority, the snake was a large Cape cobra, which congratulated Erasmus for “impeccable bravery after landing his plane without incident, despite being under extreme pressure”.

“He remained calm in dangerous conditions and managed to land the plane safely without harm to himself or his colleagues on board, proving to the world that he is an ambassador for aviation safety at the highest level,” Poppy said. Civil Aviation Authority Director Khosa said in a statement issued on Friday.

Cobras again prove elusive

According to South Africa’s National Biodiversity Agency, Cape cobras can deliver a venomous bite and adults can grow to over five feet long.

After landing, local snake catchers were called, but the snake was missing, Erasmus said. He and some engineers spent the next two days taking the plane alone in search of the snake.

“We removed the seats, the carpets, the panels, basically everything we could get off the plane at the time,” he said. “But again, unfortunately, we didn’t win.”

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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