A terrified Australian pilot has been forced into an emergency landing after finding a snake in the cockpit of a small plane mid-flight, reports say.

The snake slithered from the dashboard of the Air Frontier plane 20 minutes after it took off from Darwin Airport on Tuesday, ABC News reported.

Its pilot issued a mayday call and made an emergency landing.

Air Frontier director Geoffrey Hunt told ABC news the incident was a first for the company.


"I have heard of crocodiles being loose in planes but not snakes," he said.

Mr Hunt said the plane had been grounded while a search was carried out for the snake.

Traps had been set and the plane would not fly again until the reptile was found, he said.

"Until we find the snake, it's not good for business."