Snake on a Plane: Qantas Passenger Spots Python Holding Onto Wing During Flight

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Snakes on a plane sounds like a terrifying ordeal for passengers, but in this case it was the reptile who had a wild ride. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a python found itself trapped on the wing of a Qantas plane traveling from Australia to Papua New Guinea.

Twenty minutes into the "Down Under" flight, a passenger noticed a strange hitchhiker from her window: a three-meter-long python. The surprisingly calm snake-spotter informed a flight attendant about the snake, pointing out the reptile's head and body peeking out from inside the wing.

Snake expert Rick Shine later identified the snake as an "uncomfortable" scrub python, the longest snake species in Australia.

''There's no way it could be anything else,'' Shine told the Herald. ''They're common in north Queensland. They're ambush predators and if there are rodents anywhere nearby, they'll most likely be in the vicinity. They often find their way into tight ceiling spaces in houses, although I've never heard of one on a plane until now.''

News soon spread around the back half of the plane that a bizarre hitchhiker was on board. While first class remained unaware of the whole ordeal, the coach section crowded around the window to take pictures and watch the snake fight against the powers of flight.

''There was no panic. At no time did anyone stop to consider that there might be others on board,'' passenger Robert Weber explained to the Herald. Instead Weber's fellow flight-mates were interested in figuring out how the snake got on the plane and if it could stay alive outside on the wing.

''I felt quite sad for it, really. For the remainder of the flight, he was trying to pull himself back into the plane, even though he was fighting against 400 km/h winds. The cabin crew told us that at cruising altitude, it was minus 12 degrees outside - but not even that was able to finish him,'' Weber described.

Both pilots of the plane took turns inspecting the scene, watching the snake's struggle. The pilots told passengers that the stresses of flight would certainly kill the snake, but the python was spotted still moving all the way up to the arrival gate.

The president of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, Paul Cousins, told The Herald: ''It appears as though the snake has initially crawled up inside the landing bay, maybe housed himself in there, and then crawled into the trailing ledge flap assembly.''

This hiding spot would have been safe for the snake had the flaps of the plane's wing not moved back during flight and shaken the reptile loose. A spokeswoman for Qantas said this was certainly the first time the airline had experienced an issue like this.

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