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Snake on the plane!  A Cobra appears in the cockpit of an airplane next to the pilot and is forced to make an emergency landing

Snake on the plane! A Cobra appears in the cockpit of an airplane next to the pilot and is forced to make an emergency landing

(CNN) – South African authorities celebrated the bravery of a pilot who landed the plane safely after feeling a venomous cobra slithering over his body mid-flight.

Pilot Rudolf Erasmus told CNN he was flying a small plane Monday with four colleagues on board when he felt a “cold sensation… under his shirt in the hip area.”

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

“I had a moment of stunned silence,” he said. “It was like my brain didn’t want to register what was happening, to be really honest. It was a moment of disbelief, I guess.”

Before taking off on the first part of a multi-stop flight, Erasmus said he had heard from some people at the airport “who saw this cobra seeking refuge under the wing of the plane, and they suspected it had crawled into the hood.”

After conducting a failed search inside the plane, he said, “we assumed the snake was out and went on its merry way.”

Two people look inside the plane at Wellcome Airport in Welkom, South Africa, where pilot Rudolf Erasmus discovered a venomous snake under his seat mid-flight.

“simple attitude”

But the snake was apparently hiding and emerged from its shelter mid-flight.

The pilot told the passengers and told air traffic controllers that he had a “slight situation” and landed the plane in a nearby area. Erasmus said all five people on board were unharmed and the snake was found under the pilot’s seat “in a nice little package”.

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The snake was a large Cape cobra, according to the South African Civil Aviation Authority, which congratulated Erasmus “for displaying impeccable courage after landing his aircraft without incident, albeit under extreme stress.”

“He remained calm in the face of a dangerous situation and was able to land the aircraft safely without any harm to himself or his fellow passengers, proving to the world that he is an ambassador for aviation safety at the highest level,” said Bobby. Khoza, director of the aviation authority, said in a statement published on Friday.

Cobra proved elusive again

Cobra cobras can deliver a venomous bite and adults can reach more than five feet in length, according to South Africa’s National Institute of Biological Diversity.

After landing, local snake catchers were called, but Erasmus said the snake was missing. He and some engineers spent the next two days taking the plane apart, looking for the snake.

“We removed the seats, the carpets, the baseboards, whatever we could get on the plane at the time, they did,” he said. “But again, unfortunately, we didn’t succeed.”