A pilot Rudolph Erasmus flying four passengers from Cape Town, South Africa, to Nelspruit, had to make an emergency landing in Welkom after he discovered a highly venomous snake slid under his seat.
The 30-year-old pilot and four passengers were on a regular flight from Worcester in the Western Cape to Nelspruit. After the crew stopped in Bloemfontein and headed toward Wonderboom on the trip’s second leg, the pilot noticed something made a cold slither on his body.
At first, he thought it was his water bottle pressing against his back, but when he had a second look, he discovered a snake putting its head underneath his seat. He immediately alerted the passengers and landed at Welkom’s airport.
As I turned to my left and looked down, I saw the cobra putting its head back underneath my seat. I had a moment of stunned silence, not sure if I should tell the passengers because I didn’t want to cause a panic. But obviously, they needed to know at some point what was going on. I just said, listen, there’s a problem. The snake is inside the aircraft. I’ve got a feeling it’s under my seat, so we are going to have to get the plane on the ground as soon as possible.
Snake handler Johan de Klerk was available to help the crew and alongisde other Welkom experts joined the next day to strip the aircraft of its panels in search of the venomous reptile.
Rudolph Erasmus Hailed Hero
The pilot Rudolph Erasmus was declared a hero for his expertise in handling the situation and saving the lives of all on board. The South African Civil Aviation commissioner Poppy Khosa, hailed Erasmus for his airmanship.
Oh my goodness, this could have been disastrous. Great airmanship indeed, which saved all lives on board. Such an amazing story and great handling of the situation by the pilot. Bravo to great airmanship
What was the snake onboard?
The snake found onboard was a Cape Cobra. A moderate-sized, highly venomous snake, also called the yellow cobra and commonly found in Southern Africa.
There was a report that the snake had been spotted lying underneath the aircraft’s wing at the airfield where the plane departed from. People who had seen it attempted to catch it, but it escaped into the engine cowlings. The people opened the cowlings, and when they did not find the snake, they assumed it had its way out.