Most grandmothers are harmless souls. Many like knitting, a few bake teacakes, and others potter around the garden or babysit their grandkids.

They'd be the last people you'd expect to attempt to smuggle a potentially deadly weapon on board a commercial flight, especially in the United States.

However, when a 80-year-old woman went through security at Myrtle Beach Airport in South Carolina, officers noticed something odd about her cane.

It had an elegant bronze handle, and when it was tugged and twisted slightly, the casing fell away to reveal an enormous hidden sword.


"She had no idea it was there," said Mark Howell, a spokesman for America's Transport Safety Administration (TSA).

The cane was a gift from her son, and she'd been leaning on it for years, but she had to grudgingly surrender it in order to make her flight.

"It happens a lot, actually," Mr Howell said about secret swords.

"People pick them up at a thrift store and the sword isn't found until we X-ray it."

According to the Charlotte Observer, a 57-year-old man was arrested at the same airport on Monday after officers found a gun in his carry-on luggage.

He was charged and released on a US$5000 bond.

However, Mr Howell said about 99 per cent of the time, passengers don't intentionally pack guns in their carry-on bags.

"The most common excuse is 'oops, I forgot to take it out before I came to the airport,' or their husband or wife packed the bag for them."


According to the TSA website, seized items are simply "terminated" unless passengers arrange for them to be checked or mailed elsewhere.