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Tuesday 11 April 2023

Snakes alive! Scary flight ends safely

A light aircraft flight was interrupted by one of the most dangerous snakes in the world last week - but the pilot and passengers lived to tell the tale.

Pilot Rudolf Erasmus was forced to execute an emergency landing after he discovered the unwanted passenger aboard his Beechcraft Baron 58 in South Africa.

Erasmus and four passengers were en route from Worcester in the Western Cape to Mbombela in the north of the country.

Erasmus told The Lowefelder newspaper that he felt something cold against his hip while in the air, only to discover what he thought was a highly venomous Cape cobra.

“We had flown from Worcester and stopped at the Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein to refuel and get something to eat," Erasmus told the newspaper.

"We boarded again and were en route to the Wonderboom National Airport, with the final destination being the old Nelspruit (Mbombela) Airfield.

“We were cruising at 11 000ft in the air when I felt something cold against my hip.”

Erasmus said he had initially thought it was his water bottle leaking, until he looked down and saw the head of the snake.

“It was receding under my chair. I kept quiet for minute or two, because I didn’t want the passengers to panic. I informed them a snake was under my seat in the cockpit and I needed to land the plane as soon as possible.

“Luckily everyone remained calm.”

Erasmus said he contacted the relevant authorities, who cleared him to land at the nearest airport in the mining town of Welkom.

He said the snake was very placid while in the air, and that it took him between 10 and 15 minutes to execute the landing.

Image: The Lowfelder

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