Pilot Discovers Deadly Cobra in His Cockpit at 11,000 Feet—Here's What Happened Next

A pilot was forced to emergency land his plane when he realized a deadly cobra was on board.

When the 2006 Samuel L. Jackson movie Snakes on a Plane hit theaters, there was a lot of hype surrounding it – mainly because the plot seemed preposterous. What are the chances that venomous, fanged reptiles could wreak havoc on an airplane? However, for one South African pilot, the far-fetched plot became a reality when one of the most deadly snakes in the world joined him to fly the (not so) friendly skies. 

A Pilot Found a Snake on His Plane

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Rudolph Erasmus was 11,000 feet in the air when he noticed there was an extra passenger on the plane. However, the stowaway wasn't a person but a cobra that was slithering underneath his seat. 

He First Thought It Was His Water Bottle

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He felt something cold on his back but initially thought it was his water bottle. "To be truly honest, it's as if my brain did not register what was going on," he told the BBC. "It was a moment of […] awe."

Then He Realized It Was a Cobra

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"I felt this cool sensation, sort of, crawling up my shirt," he continued, thinking maybe the water was dripping down his back. "As I turned to the left and looked down, I saw the cobra […] receding its head backwards underneath the seat."

He Informed the Passengers

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Because he didn't want to create panic, he initially resisted telling the passengers about the snake but was "so scared the snake might have gone to the back and cause mass panic" that he ended up telling 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.'"

He Made an Emergency Landing

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"You could hear a needle drop, and I think everyone froze for a moment or two," he said about their response. He made an emergency landing, safely returning his four passengers and the snake to solid ground. If someone had been bitten, they could've been killed in just 30 minutes.

The Snake Had Been Spotted Under the Plane Prior to Takeoff

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According to Erasmus, two people working at the airport where the plane first took off spotted a snake underneath the aircraft prior to departure. They tried to "grab" it but couldn't. He said that he even tried to look for the snake, but "unfortunately, it was not there, so we all then safely assumed that it must have crawled out overnight or earlier that morning, which was on Monday." The snake is still missing, despite engineers stripping the plane to search for it. 

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The Pilot Is Being Praised As a Hero

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People are calling Erasmus a hero, including South African civil aviation commissioner Poppy Khosa, who praised his "great airmanship indeed which saved all lives on board," according to the News24 site. However, he doesn't feel heroic. "I think that's a bit blown up if I can be direct," he said. "It's also my passengers that remained calm as well."

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