SYDNEY — An Australian pilot was given the fright of his life when a snake slithered from the dashboard of the plane he was flying, forcing him to make an emergency landing, according to airline officials.
Braden Blennerhassett was on a freight run for Air Frontier from Darwin to the remote town of Peppimenarti in the Northern Territory on Tuesday when the reptile appeared in the cockpit.
He made a mayday call and landed safely back in Darwin.
"My blood pressure and heart rate was a bit elevated -- it was an interesting experience," Blennerhassett told Nine News.
"As the plane was landing the snake was crawling down my leg, which was frightening."
Air Frontier director Geoffrey Hunt said Blennerhassett handled the situation well, given Australia is home to some of the most venomous snakes in the world.
"He said, we've got a snake on board," Hunt told reporters, adding that the pilot had trouble communicating with the control tower.
"The snake popped its head out near the transmit button that he needed to press to talk to the tower."
Blennerhassett managed to get his small plane back to base where a snake handler was organised to meet him.
"We have got another chap here who is an aircraft engineer and a snake handler and he had a look and he couldn't find it," Hunt said, adding that they now planned to use a live mouse in a cage as bait.
Until the snake is found, the aircraft will be grounded.