Pilot Lives Through Real Snakes On A Plane Encounter With Deadly Cobra

A South African pilot found a cobra crawling into his shirt while midair.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

These days, fans are understandably excited to see Samuel L. Jackson return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury in the upcoming Disney+ show Secret Invasion. However, for those who love goofy horror films, Jackson will never top his career-best campiness in Snakes on a Plane. The premise of that movie sounded hilariously unreal at the time, but it’s no longer a laughing matter: the BBC reports that South African pilot Rudolph Erasmus had to deal with a cobra crawling up his shirt after he had the plane a dizzying 11,000 feet in the air.

Believe it or not, hearing the pilot detail his own “snakes on a plane” experience makes the whole thing even creepier. Normally, it would be as easy for a pilot to spot a snake in a cabin as it is for Indiana Jones to spot a snake in some long-forgotten temple. But this particular snake was crawling on the pilot’s back under his shirt, and when he first felt the sensation, he mistook it for his water bottle.

This led to a moment that would have been right at home in Snakes on a Plane or any other horror movie. Once the pilot turned around, he saw the snake receding its head backward. It was heading underneath the seat as best it could, and the pilot was intimately aware of just how deadly a threat he was facing. 

A cobra is one of the deadliest snakes that could possibly appear on a plane due to its venom. If the snake bites someone, then it may take the venom only 30 minutes to kill them (making this the scariest venom we’ve heard about that wasn’t played by Tom Hardy). But the pilot had to marshall his fears for one, simple reason: he had passengers that he needed to protect.

In order to keep them safe, the pilot had to warn the passengers about their cobra visitor, and that’s how those flying aboard this private plane learned the hard way that they were living through their own sequel to Snakes on a Plane. Fortunately, nobody panicked, and nobody got bitten by the cobra. And the plane was able to safely make an emergency landing in the nearby city of Welkom. 

snakes on a plane

Once they landed, though, this sequel to Snakes on a Plane turned into more of an homage to the classic episode of The Twilight Zone where only William Shatner’s character was able to see the creature that threatened their plane. After this plane landed, nobody could find it, even after engineers began stripping the plane down. And it turns out the snake was previously spotted underneath the plane before but wasn’t there when it took off, leading the pilot to think it had slithered away when it had merely stowed away onboard the plane.

Ultimately, while nobody should ever have to deal with venomous snakes on a plane, this is the story of people demonstrating supreme cool under pressure. This certainly applies to pilot Rudolph Erasmus, but he has rejected attempts to label him as a hero, pointing out that we should really focus on how his passengers kept cool and didn’t panic. And while nobody asked the pilot or passengers this very important question, we can only assume that by the time it landed, everyone had, in fact, had it with this mother****ing snake on this mother****ing plane.