According to The New York Times report on Friday, Rudolf Erasmus faced a venomous Cape cobra at 11,000 feet while flying on 9th April. Despite the frightening encounter, Erasmus managed to remain calm and safely execute an emergency landing without any reported snake bites.
Airport workers had informed Erasmus before take-off that a Cape cobra had been spotted in the engine of the plane. Despite the inability to locate the snake, Erasmus took off anyway. Shortly after take-off, Erasmus felt a cool sensation under his shirt and realized the snake was under his feet.
To avoid alarming his four passengers, Erasmus calmly announced that an “uninvited guest” had joined their flight and immediately made plans to land at the nearest airport.
“No one was panicking or getting hysterical about the snake,” Erasmus told the Times. “And there was a moment of silence in the cabin. You could hear a needle drop.”
Upon landing, Erasmus discovered the snake had been hiding under his seat during the flight.
A snake handler was then called in to remove the cobra, but it could not be found. Despite an extensive search, the snake remained elusive. Nevertheless, a few days later, Erasmus flew the same plane again, taking extra precautions to cover any potential entry points for the snake. Thankfully, the flight was uneventful, and Erasmus plans to continue piloting his Beechcraft Baron 58. It is hoped that the Cape cobra has decided to forego air travel for the time being.
“I wish to congratulate Rudolf for the courageous steps taken and for how he handled what could have been a major aviation incident,” said South African Civil Aviation Authority Director Poppy Khoza.
According to the African Snakebite Institute, the Cape cobra is one of the deadliest snakes in South Africa and is responsible for the majority of snakebite deaths in the southern part of the continent, along with black mambas.