Turkey Drop Aborted, "Pilot" Vows Return

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Thanksgiving feels like the right time to confirm that the town of Yellville, Ark., this year did break with tradition and did not punctuate its October Turkey Trot Festival by dropping live turkeys from an airplane ... though it may next year. According to the Arkansas Times blog, the drop was effectively discouraged when the FAA promised to send observers and to enforce FAR 91.15. (The regulation prohibits pilots from dropping any object from an aircraft if it "creates a hazard to persons or property.") An effort by PETA also offered a $5,000 reward for the identity of the "phantom pilot" responsible for the drop flight. And so, the 2011 Yellville Turkey Trot Festival turkey drop didn't happen. Other popular festival events -- the Miss Drumsticks Competition, for example -- went on without a hitch. And the phantom pilot, or someone posing as that pilot, has vowed to return, according to the Arkansas Times.

Some locals still strongly support their town's tradition. One individual self-identified as "Arkansas hillbilly" added online comments to on an early report. "In the 26 years I have attended the Turkey Trot, I only know of two turkeys that died," the commenter said, "and both were from the trip in the plane and not the actual glide. Domestic turkeys don't fly, but wild turkeys do." The event's cancellation spawned T-shirts supporting the turkey drop pilot along with a "Phantom Pilot" Facebook page. The page quickly filled with comments like, "Hundreds more citizens like us are behind all efforts and will be supportive," and "Love It ... Let it Rain Turkeys." The Phantom Pilot page also offers links to commentary and videos supportive of his or her cause. Whoever runs it has added their own comments, which include, "Studies have shown that turkeys that have been released from an airplane are 26% less likely to attack News Reporters." Happy Thanksgiving.