When long-line fishing boat captain Rodney Solomon reeled in an air-to-air missile 50 miles (80km) off Panama City in Florida, he did what anyone would have done – strapped it to his boat and enjoyed the remaining 10 days of his fishing trip.

After returning from his trip, Solomon reported his unusual find to the local fire department only to find out that the missile was live and could have gone off any time.

Mr Solomon told local news organisation WTSP that fishermen are used to being in danger and are usually unflappable. “We’re fishermen, nothing scares us!

But he admits that this experience “was kind of a fright“.

It was like, ‘wow man, you all took a big chance bringing in this missile, he said. You had it on your boat for 10 days and any time it could have exploded on you.”

AIM 9L DF ST 82 10199 Florida fisherman spends 10 days next to live missile; ” it was kind of a fright”
Sidewinder

Solomon had assumed that the missile had gone off earlier since he found a hole in it.

He actually came to the fire station and told us he had caught a Tomahawk missile, said local fire chief, Derryl O’Neal, “but it turned out not to be – it was an air-to-air guided missile, known as a Sidewinder“.

The firemen quickly evacuated the area around the missile until and the deadly device could eventually be dismantled without causing any damages. The missile was caught in or near a zone used by defence forces for testing.

Local fishermen are being advised not to bring in any similar discovery, but to alert authorities to its exact location.