Snakes on Planes (In Real Life) Think the idea behind Snakes on a Plane is crazy?
Take a look at real life.

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Python Nearly Attacks 5 year-old Girl on Airplane:

It all started with sexual harassment at Texas A&M. Sort of. That’s why one woman felt she needed to bring her Python – “Jessica” – onboard a Continental Airlines flight in a gym bag.

The woman claimed the Snake was an “assisted animal” because it helped her deal with earlier sexual harassment (Seeing-eye dogs that help the blind are the most common “assisted animals”.) She planned to show the snake off at a conference in New York because of its unique purpose. After getting on the plane, she stuffed the gym bag with the snake under her seat.

But surely that wouldn’t cause any trouble? This is real life - not Snakes on a Plane.

In the seat behind Jessica the Python sat a 5-year-old girl who was traveling with her parents to a wedding. “I closed my eyes for two minutes,” the little girl’s mom said. “I woke up . . . to see a large snake with his head approximately half an inch from my daughter's leg.”

Pythons are constrictors – they take down their prey by wrapping around and suffocating them. They don’t usually kill humans, however.

The mother immediately tried to pull her daughter away from the snake, but the seat belt got in the way. Once it was unbuckled she hurriedly passed her daughter to the father. According to him, the owner of the Python then "nonchalantly took her hand and scooped back and scooped (the snake) up, threw it in her tote bag and just sat back.”

The little girl was fine, but allegedly had nightmares afterward.

A final twist to the story? The girl’s family sued the airline because the “flight turned into a devastating experience for her and her parents.” The suit also said that Continental Airlines had allowed the snake to be brought aboard. The suit ended in an undisclosed settlement.

All facts in this real-life story are based on these two news articles.

Pilot Makes Emergency Langing after 4-foot Snake Appears

From the Calgary Herald:

June 4, 2006 – Pilot Monty Coles was 3,000 feet in the air when he discovered a stowaway peeking out at him from the plane's instrument panel: a 4 & 1/2-foot snake.

Coles was taking a leisurely flight over the West Virginia countryside in his Piper Cherokee last weekend and was preparing to land in Ohio when the snake revealed itself.

"Nothing in any of the manuals ever described anything like this," said the 62-year-old resident of Cross Lanes, WVa.

But advice given 25 years earlier from his flight instructor sprung to mind: "No matter what happens, fly the plane." Coles tried to swat the snake but it fell to the pilot's feet, then darted across the cockpit. While maintaining control of the single-engine plane with one hand, Coles grabbed the reptile behind its head with his other.

"There was no way I was letting that thing go," he said. "It coiled all around my arm, and its tail grabbed hold of a lever on the floor and started pulling."

The next step was to radio for emergency landing clearance.

"They came back and asked what my problem was," he said. "I told them I had one hand full of snake and the other hand full of plane. They cleared me in."

After a smooth landing, Coles posed for pictures with the snake, then let it loose. "That snake resides in Ohio now," he said.

Dutch Agents Catch Poisonous Snake sent via Airmail

From the Associated Press:

July 12, 2006 - The plot of the upcoming Hollywood film "Snakes on a Plane" might not be as improbable as it seems.

Dutch customs detected a live poisonous snake that was sent by airmail on a flight from Hong Kong to a collector in the Netherlands, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

Inspectors thought the snake was a gag rubber gift when they first scanned the package, which was labeled "toy goods." But then they scanned it again and saw it move, ministry spokesman Kees Nanninga said.

The snake is a Fea's Viper, found in the forests of southeast Asia. It is rare but not on endangered lists, and known as highly poisonous but not usually aggressive toward humans.

Nanninga said he did not know whether the snake could have posed a threat to passengers, as in the film. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, the movie is due to be released in August and has generated a huge buzz on the Internet.

"It could have escaped," Nanninga said of the intercepted viper.

Although transporting it in an aquarium might have been allowed with the proper permits, it is illegal to put poisonous snakes in the mail, Nanninga said.

The snake was packed into a plastic tub with holes in it, inside a cardboard box.

It was being held in a "snake shelter" while authorities track down the intended recipient, Nanninga said.

Public prosecutors will decide whether to charge them with animal cruelty, while snake experts will check whether they are qualified to keep the dangerous reptile as a pet. Otherwise it will go to a shelter or zoo, Nanninga said.

Passenger Finds 50-cm Snake During Flight

From the Daily Telegraph:

Jan 27, 2005 - A Green tree snake tried to migrate to New Zealand aboard a Brisbane to Auckland flight this week.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said a passenger found the snake beneath a seat in economy class on Tuesday.

"Our in-flight services director was Australian and knew the snake was harmless," he said. "He collected the snake and put it into a bag and into the fridge to calm it down.

"You get the occasional insect that appears, but a snake is unusual."

He said when the plane landed in Auckland, it was collected by an officer from NZ's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

MAF communications officer Brett Sangster said the snake was euthanased yesterday after the Department of Conservation determined it was not a rare or endangered species.

Air New Zealand is still investigating whether the snake was taken on board intentionally.

Note: Contrary to original press reports, the creature found was not technically a snake.


Are these good reasons to be scared of flying? No. Nobody has ever died from a snake onboard a plane, and at any rate flying is far safer than driving over a similar distance.

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