Cobra Slithers Over Pilot In Flight


A South African pilot is being praised by authorities there after he made a safe emergency landing after a deadly Cape Cobra slithered under his shirt and went under his seat. Rudolf Erasmus and four friends were on board his twin on a flight when he felt something cold under his shirt near his hip. He assumed his water bottle was leaking but he glanced down just in time to see the snake’s head disappear under the seat. “I had a moment of stunned silence,” he said. “It was more as if my brain did not register what is going on to be truly honest. It was a moment of disbelief, I think.” 

He told controllers he had “a bit of a situation” and landed immediately at Welkom Airport. The five occupants got out unscathed and the snake was found balled up under the seat. South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority lauded the pilot “for displaying impeccable bravery after landing his aircraft incident-free, albeit under extreme pressure.” Unfortunately for Erasmus, the story didn’t end there. While he was waiting for a snake handler to capture it, the reptile disappeared. Erasmus and engineers spent two days stripping the aircraft but didn’t find it. Cape Cobras are a distinctive yellow and reach about five feet long. They are among the deadliest snakes with a single bite delivering enough venom to kill nine people, according to A-Z-Animals.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Or a large hornet in the cockpit of my Aeronca Chief. Or the large wasp nest that was in the air vent intake of a C172 I flew and they all flushed into the cabin on takeoff. Still, all better than a cobra.

  2. As I taxied onto the runway in an Air Force T-33, I noticed a wasp buzzing around the cockpit. Being allergic to the sting, I stopped on the runway, opened the canopy, and waved him out. The mission then proceeded.