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Cool Pilot Counters Cockpit Cobra!

FILE: People look inside a plane at the Welkom Airport, in Welkom, South Africa, for a venomous snake seen under pilot Rudolf Erasmus's seat midair, Monday April 3, 2023. Erasmus was flying the light aircraft when he felt “something cold” slide across his lower back.

JOHANNESBURG - A South African pilot who made an emergency landing after a venomous snake crawled into his seat was praised by the authorities Friday for "displaying impeccable bravery."

Rudolf Erasmus was flying a small private aircraft with four passengers from Bloemfontein to Pretoria earlier this week, when he felt a large Cape Cobra snake moving across his back.

Despite the extreme pressure, he landed the plane incident-free in Welkom, a city located roughly midway along the route.

"I wish to congratulate Rudolf for the courageous steps taken and for how he handled what could have been a major aviation incident," said South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) director Poppy Khoza.

"He remained calm in the face of a dangerous situation and managed to land the aircraft safely without any harm to him or the passengers on board, displaying to the world that he is an aviation safety ambassador of the highest order."

Erasmus told local media he became aware of the snake mid-flight after feeling something cold pressing against his back.

"At first I thought it was my water bottle... but then I realised it was something else and (so I) didn't move," he told the News24 outlet. The incident happened on Monday.

Cape cobras are found mainly in southwestern South Africa and have a potentially deadly neurotoxic venom that requires immediate treatment with an anti-venom.