Most people agree that snakes are terrifying. Others find them to be beautiful. Some people like to keep the cold-blooded beasts as pets. The main issue is of course that snakes lack the ability to form an emotional bond with a human. Eating their owner is always their ultimate goal. Luckily most snakes don't grow big enough to accomplish that feat.
The Congo is here to, once again, rock our world with reports of an oversized creepy-crawly critter. We've covered the J'ba Fofi before, a giant, man-eating spider said to live in the Congolese jungle.
This is the story of the 50-foot Congo Snake, and the man who took its photo.
Colonel Remy van Lierde – WWII Ace Fighter
There has been a lot of myth-making surrounding the second World War. Many soldiers have been elevated to legendary status. It is easy to forget that they were all flesh-and-blood humans with fears and doubts.
One such legend is the Belgian fighter pilot, Remy van Lierde. He was an unremarkable man before the war. Joining the Belgian military as an observer, before training to be a pilot.
Belgian forces were ill-prepared for the German invasion. Remy flew an antique biplane against the advanced German fighters, and was predictably shot down. This happened on day-6 of the 18-day conflict. By the time Remy van Lierde got out of hospital, his country had already fallen.
Remy wasn't ready to stop fighting the Germans. He snuck through the by now also conquered France, and into Spain. The Spanish authorities caught him trying to sneak over the border, and he was sent to prison.
His captors couldn't quite decide what to do with him. They transferred him from prison to prison, and finally to a concentration camp, from which he managed to escape.
From there he traveled to England, where he tried to join the RAF (Royal Air Force). Remy's luck was still rather rotten. The British weren't letting just anyone into the RAF. He spent 6 weeks being interrogated by MI5.
After his warm welcome, Remy was sent to the RAF training camp. He soon graduated to fighter pilot. Spending the rest of the war taking down German planes and conducting bombings of military targets.
His second aerial kill was actually witnessed by his wife, who was living in Belgium at the time. Remy went on to down 5 more German planes, but his greatest achievement was still ahead of him.
Nazi scientists had developed a new kind of bomb. The V-1 was an unmanned bomb which was launched from a catapult system and could hit targets at great range.
Thousands of these bombs rained down on Britain near the tail end of the war. The bombs travelled faster than most planes. This made it hard for the British defenses to cope with the cloud of death flying into their country.
Fighters were dispatched to try to thin out the barrage. Despite the difficulty in taking the bombs down, Remy managed to rack up the second-highest score. He downed 44 of the devilish bombs.
After the war he returned to the reinstated Belgian Air Force. He became an aide to King Leopold III (the son of one of the most evil men in history, Leopold II). By 1959 he was put in charge of Kamina Air Base in the Belgium-dominated Congo.
It was during his time in the Belgian-Congo that he would take a photo that baffled zoologists.
50 Feet of Snake
Remy van Lierde was returning from a mission in a helicopter when he saw something disconcerting. Something huge was slithering around below. He descended to investigate.
According to Remy's account on the British TV program, Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, he saw a breathtakingly large serpent on the ground. He estimated the beast's total length at roughly 50 feet (15.24 m).
Remy descended to get a better look at the snake, but had to retreat when it rose 10 feet (3.05 m) up into the air. It wasn't afraid of his helicopter, instead viewing it as a potential snack.
Before fleeing the scene, Remy's passenger managed to snap the now-legendary picture of the snake.
Like any other cryptid (a reported animal, unrecorded by science) there is a lot of doubt surrounding the 50-foot Snake. Many skeptics point out that the largest known species of snake in Africa is the African Rock Python, which has been recorded at a whopping 6.5 m (21.33 feet) long.
No comparable snake exists. The largest species of snake, South America's Anaconda, only grows up to a maximum recorded length of 33 feet (10.06 m). Which is still plenty big.
The photo has been authenticated by analysts, but if you really look at it, it is tough to determine an accurate scale.
We may never know the truth of the 50-foot Congo Snake.