South African pilot is being celebrated for his bravery in making an emergency landing when he discovered a venomous cobra coiled beneath his seat, according to local media reports.
During a routine flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit on Monday morning, pilot Rudolph Erasmus had to abruptly end the journey due to an unexpected and unsettling sensation on his body. Erasmus shared with the Times Live news website that he felt something cold, prompting him to take immediate action.
"As I turned to my left and looked down, I saw the [Cape] cobra putting its head back underneath my seat," he is quoted as saying.
The bite of a Cape cobra can kill a man in 30 minutes.
South African civil aviation commissioner has hailed Mr Erasmus as a hero, news24 website reports.
"Great airmanship indeed which saved all lives on board," Poppy Khosa is quoted as saying.
The pilot said he was unsure if to tell his passengers after spotting the snake during the flight. He said he didn't want to cause panic.
The pilot was hesitant to inform the passengers, as he feared it might cause panic.
“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,” he is quoted as saying.
He managed to make an emergency landing at Welkom.
Engineers who stripped the plane did not find the rogue reptile, Mr Erasmus said.
He hopes to fly the plane again on Wednesday.