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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Pilot forced to make emergency landing after spotting snake on plane

A routine flight turned into a nightmare for pilot Rudolf Erasmus when he discovered a highly venomous Cape cobra on board.

Erasmus, who obtained his commercial license in 2016, was flying from Worcester in the Western Cape to Nelspruit with four passengers when he felt a strange sensation on his body. Upon investigation, he saw the cobra putting its head back underneath his seat.

Erasmus kept his cool and immediately declared an emergency with Johannesburg. As soon as the aircraft came to a stop, the passengers and Erasmus quickly got out, trying not to cause a panic. Erasmus later said,

“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.”

Erasmus and his passengers were lucky to land safely in Welkom, and according to Aviation specialist and SA chief air show commentator Brian Emmenis, Erasmus displayed “the greatest skill in aviation.”

He added, “He could have panicked. He could have put that aeroplane in an uncontrollable spin. He could have rolled the aircraft with passengers falling all over the show, and with the bad weather, he could have lost sight of the ground and crashed, not only killing those on board but also people on the ground.”

Unwelcome Passenger: SA Pilot Forced to Make Emergency Landing After Finding Highly Venomous Cape Cobra on Board

Finding the Cobra

The snake was not found immediately and experts were called to the scene. Emmenis arranged for a snake catcher to come and they worked until last light to catch the snake. They even put mealie meal around the aircraft so that if the snake came out, they would see the tracks in the morning. However, the snake could not be located and the passengers opted to drive back by road.

Erasmus will fly the plane out on Wednesday and is hoping the snake found its way out. The group had opened the cowlings of the aircraft earlier in Worcester, but the snake was not found and they assumed it had slithered away. Erasmus said, “This was definitely a first and not something you get trained to handle to be honest.”

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