A South African airplane pilot had to think quick when he found a stowaway on his airplane who was hiding under his seat. He knew that what he did next was a life and death matter.
The Associated Press writes that “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.
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 and land the plane with the snake curled up by his feet.”
A Cape cobra bite has the ability to kill someone in only an hour.
When he realized his slithery friend was sitting under his seat, he needed to make a decision, would he inform his passengers that a deadly snake was on board, and risk panic, or keep it to himself.
“In the end, he decided the tell them. ‘I did inform the passengers: ‘Listen the snake is inside the aircraft, it’s underneath my seat, so let’s try and get down to the ground as soon as we can.’
So how did the passengers react? Mr Erasmus described a moment of absolute silence: “You could hear a needle drop and I think everyone froze for a moment or two.”
Pilots are trained for lots of scenarios, but certainly not for dealing with snakes in the cockpit he said, telling the BBC that panicking would have just made the situation worse.”
The plane made an emergency landing in the city of Welkom.
Rudolf was praised by South African civil aviation commissioner Poppy Khoza, who called him “a hero” and said he “saved all lives on board.”
After landing, however, the cobra could not be found. It apparently boarded and got off the plane without notice.