A pilot flying a small plane in South Africa with four passengers aboard felt a "cold sensation … underneath my shirt at my hip area," and thought it was a leaky water bottle. Until he glanced to his left and saw a venomous cobra head making its way underneath his seat.
But rather than do what most people would do and panic, Rudolf Erasmus told CNN, "I had a moment of stunned silence" before realizing he had to remain calm and immediately land the plane.
Before departing on the first part of the day's multileg trip, Erasmus said he had heard from people at the airport "that they saw this cape cobra that was seeking refuge underneath our wing of the aircraft and had a suspicion that it crawled into the engine cowling."
A search of the plane turned up nothing, "so we assumed the snake had gotten out and went on his merry way," he said.
But the snake was apparently in hiding and emerged mid-flight.
The pilot told the passengers, informed air traffic controllers he had "a bit of a situation," and landed the plane nearby. All five people onboard emerged unscathed, and the snake was found under the pilot's seat "in a nice pretty little bundle," Erasmus said.
But once local snake catchers arrived at the scene, the "pretty little bundle" had vanished for the second time. "They took out the seats, the carpets, the panels – basically everything in the aircraft that they could strip at that point, they did," the heroic pilot said. "But once again, unfortunately with no success." As of CNN's reporting, the slippery stowaway remains at large.