"Why'd it have to be snakes?"--Indiana Jones
He was making a cargo delivery, but he had no idea the cargo included a dangerous hop-on.
Sounds like a line from a cheesy movie, but Australian pilot Braden Bennerhassett says that's exactly what happened to him on Tuesday when a snake peeked out at him from behind the instrument panel of his twin-engine Beechcraft Baron during a solo flight to an Aboriginal settlement. He immediately made radio contact with air traffic control:
"I'm going to have to return to Darwin. I've got a snake on board the plane," he said coolly.
Bennerhassett insists that despite his calm tone, his heart rate and blood pressure were steadily climbing, and it only got worse when the snake actually crawled up his leg as he began his landing at Darwin.
The pilot landed safely and the snake slithered away aboard the plane. It was spotted later but still hasn't been caught, and Bennerhassett has been grounded since. Based on the description he gave authorities, the creature is believed to be a golden tree snake, which is non-venomous. But Bennerhassett had no way of knowing he wasn't in any immediate danger and still managed to keep his wits about him, which is commendable.
Surprisingly, this is the second time in just a couple of weeks that a snake has infiltrated air traffic; an 8-foot albino python was found in a package at a UK airport in March.