Turkey Drop: As God Is My Witness...
I wonder if anyone at 800 Independence Avenue will make the connection with that phrase. I'll get to it in a minute, but first, does the FAA really need to send agents to the little town of Yellville, Arkansas to arrest any pilot caught throwing live wild turkeys out of airplanes over the town square?
Evidently, it has come to that, pathetic as it may sound. This little dust-up blew up this week as part of the town's annual Turkey Trot festival that also includes a turkey drop as part of its Thanksgiving festival. They used to toss the wild turkeys off the County Courthouse but sometime during the 1960s, the locals took to launching the gobblers out of low-flying airplanes. There is some disagreement whether the birds can actually fly and, evidently, some…ummm, splatted rather than alighted at a survivable rate of descent, although some can evidently fly well enough to flutter down.
As is so often the case, outside groups got involved, complaining about animal cruelty and the event more or less went underground. Lately, the airplanes just mysteriously show up, drop the turkeys, and mysteriously disappear. In the ultimate buzz off to meddling do-gooders, the locals have taken to wearing t-shirts with "phantom pilot" written on them. I won't be the slightest bit surprised if an airplane with smudged N-numbers shows up and gives the feds a run for their money. How great will it look on the evening news when federal agents chasing turkey tossers fan out across Arkansas?
The imbroglio reminds me of that classic WKRP In Cincinnati episode during the 1980s, one of the funniest things ever seen on television, when station manager Arthur Carlson (aka The Big Guy) attempts his own version of the Yellville Turkey Drop from the door of a helicopter. The station's live newsfeed—who could forget Les Nessman and his imaginary walls?—describes the turkeys as wet cement hitting the sidewalk. The show closes with that iconic line, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." (See the full episode here or a clip here.)
I don't how well wild turkeys fly but I would offer this: Given the sorry state of aviation, does the FAA really need to get publically involved in this? Couldn't the federal government just sort of let the locals figure it out?
It's a rhetorical question but one with an answer: Evidently not. And anyway, how often do you get to use Less Nessman in a key word search string?