'I've got snakes on a plane,' pilot tells air traffic control

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

An Australian pilot had to make an unplanned landing only 20 minutes after takeoff after a snake slithered out of the dashboard into the cockpit.

Pilot Braden Blennerhassett spotted the snake about 20 minutes after takeoff from the Darwin Airport on an Air Frontier cargo flight Tuesday afternoon, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

"Lo and behold, in between the instrument panel and the dashboard, a stowaway came on board and it took me a while to register that it was actually a snake," Blennerhassett told the broadcaster Thursday.

"I turned (the plane) around and got it headed back towards Darwin there and said, 'Look, you're not going to believe this. I've got snakes on a plane.'"

At first, air traffic control didn't believe him, Blennerhassett said, but they started to take him seriously when he asked for a snake handler to meet the plane.

Blennerhassett was alone on the plane, flying a solo cargo flight, when the unticketed passenger popped out.

Air Frontier director Geoffrey Hunt told ABC the plane will be grounded until staff find -- and remove -- the snake.