Pilot finds large venomous cobra in cockpit mid-flight while passengers on board

Beechcraft Baron 58 propeller plane leaving from runway
Robert Buchel / Shutterstock.com

A South African pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after he found a large venomous cobra in his cockpit.  

According to pilot Rudolph Erasmus suddenly felt a “cold sensation” by his hip and when he looked down under his seat the snake was nestled away.  

“As I turned to my left and looked down, I could see the head of the snake receding back underneath my seat,” Erasmus told NPR. “At which point there was a moment of stunned silence, to be brutally honest.” 

On board the Beechcraft Baron 58 at the time were four passengers who Erasmus was flying from South Africa’s Western Cape to Nelspruit on April 3, 2023.  

On discovering the snake, Erasmus decided the best option was to land at Welkom, which was the nearest airport.  

According to the BBC Erasmus decided to inform the passengers that the snake was in the plane despite being afraid the situation could cause “mass panic”. 

“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 told the passengers.  

Thankfully the plane landed safely without anyone coming to any harm, but the cobra has since not been found.  

According to Erasmus the snake’s appearance was not a total shock after two colleagues from the Worcester flying club said they saw something crawl under the plane earlier in the day. 

Before setting off Erasmus checked the aircraft but could not find any sign of any reptiles.  

South African civil aviation commissioner, Poppy Khosa, called Erasmus a “hero” and praised his “great airmanship” which “saved all lives on board”. 

Cobras are one of the most venomous snakes on the planet and can cause death in under an hour. 

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