An unwelcome passenger

“No matter what happens fly the airplane.”

Pilot Monty Coles remembered that nugget of advice given to him by his flight instructor some 25 years ago when he discovered he had an uninvited passenger in the form of a 4-1/2-foot snake aboard his plane during a recent flight over the Ohio and West Virginia border.

Coles was at 3,000 feet when he discovered the snake in the instrument panel. A short struggle ensued. Coles was able to grab the snake behind its head with one hand while he flew with the other. The snake coiled around his arm, while its tail grabbed hold of a lever on the floor and started pulling.

Coles radioed the tower, advising them that he had to make an emergency landing because he had a handful of snake and a handful of airplane. After the landing Coles and the snake parted company.

Coles noted that “snake in the airplane” was not covered in the emergency procedures section of his POH.

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