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Turkey Drop: As God Is My Witness...

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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?

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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?

Comments (67)

Will the pumpkin droppers be next? No direct experience mind you, but I've heard of airports that hold "pumpkin prop for accuracy contests" around Halloween. Will they have to stop?

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | October 11, 2011 1:30 PM    Report this comment

I too remember that WKRP episode (which I understand was based loosely on Yellville) as one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV, then or since.

Doesn’t the fact that it's been done for decades without injury (except turkeys) or property damage prove that it doesn't create a danger to persons or property on the ground?

Our tax dollars hard at work. OH! THE HUMANITY!!

Posted by: Kris Larson | October 11, 2011 2:04 PM    Report this comment

Actually, wild turkeys fly pretty good.

I think Columbia (CA) may also have eliminated the yearly helicopter "piano drop" which was a high-light of their Father's Day gathering.

Posted by: John Wilson | October 11, 2011 2:21 PM    Report this comment

I also found it sort of irritating in the original article that the FAA claimed that one must have their authorization to drop something out of an airplane. Not the case, provided the correct precautions are taken.

Posted by: Kyle Pack | October 11, 2011 7:57 PM    Report this comment

I have to say that I just about laughed out loud on this one!!!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | October 11, 2011 8:06 PM    Report this comment

I don't know how well they fly when flung out of an airplane at 100 knots, but they fly awfully well on their own. Turkeys nest in treetops in my neck of the woods, and hearing the "womp" of a 30 pound bird's wings go whizzing over your head is quite an experience.

Posted by: Unknown | October 12, 2011 12:53 AM    Report this comment

I am deeply saddened and discouraged to see how little credence or value is paid to the animal abuse aspect of this debacle. It is appalling to me that most reports and comments pretty much laugh it off, as if to say, its just some good old boys havin' a little fun! Do we think its okay, because its a bird, to toss it out of a moving airplane? And then to mock PETA as fringe crazies? Come on folks, this is animal cruelty plain and simple, and it reflects poorly on us as humans to allow it to happen, let alone laugh about it.

Posted by: Robert Shapiro | October 12, 2011 7:14 AM    Report this comment

I laughed at the story, never stop laughing about the WKRP episode as it never gets old and seeing the last post makes me appreciate(and laugh at) the diversity of this great country. Enjoy your Felafel on T-Day man! :-) ( Turkey drop is hysterical!Its a TURKEY, not a puppy Labrador!)

Posted by: Chris Sanders | October 12, 2011 7:34 AM    Report this comment

Well said, Robert Shapiro. Incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to do this. Or that anyone else would find it funny rather than cruel.

Posted by: Ceri Reid | October 12, 2011 7:34 AM    Report this comment

It is legal to throw things out of an airplane, so long as precautions are taken that no injuries or damage occurs on the ground. It's done often for bombing competition with bags of flour. And for you animal lovers, how do you know it's not a Turkey's dream to fly free at least once before it dies? It probably doesn't even get "scared" or know it is going to die. No harm, no fowl.

Posted by: Jim Dunn | October 12, 2011 7:51 AM    Report this comment

Bags of flour and pumpkins lack the capacity to feel pain. I'm no card carrying member of PETA nor am I a vegetarian, but there's a sense of humanity here. I expected the pilot community to have a little more class. Funny in a sit-com not so funny in real life.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | October 12, 2011 8:38 AM    Report this comment

C-130's even drop larger objects in class G airspace (sometimes at night) -- after making sure no person or other object on the ground will be damaged.

Posted by: Richard Fechter | October 12, 2011 8:39 AM    Report this comment

Hmmm, such a buzz over bird drop(n)'s and none over detached components from large aircraft. I do want that job with free paychecks watching bird drop(n)'s :-) You boys at the FSDO's are going to take a beating on this one - enjoy your day!

Posted by: Joeseph Gawlikowski: JoesPiper | October 12, 2011 8:43 AM    Report this comment

Just another thought - what are the safety implications of having a live turkey get unexpectedly loose in the aircraft? See the report now - stall, spin when pilot loses control after being clawed by live turkey while passenger attempts to throw turkey out of window. Oh, wait we're going to tie the turkeys wings/legs? See cruelty comments above. I transport dogs quite frequently in a PA32 and they are confined & muzzled. Of course I'm not tossing them out the door either.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | October 12, 2011 8:45 AM    Report this comment

To add, does this mean I can no longer use my urinal tube that exits out the tail of the aircraft? I guess our officials (none named) no longer want to be peed on :-) Too funny!

Posted by: Joeseph Gawlikowski: JoesPiper | October 12, 2011 8:47 AM    Report this comment

I don't know about turkeys, but I know of some Europeans who would like to toss out some greeks, would that be ok? Not sure how well they fly, though.

Posted by: Joe Wuensche | October 12, 2011 9:02 AM    Report this comment

I KNOW that wild turkeys fly quite well, but then, I've never seen one launched from on high at some speed. If they were a little smarter, I'm guessing they would fly a straight line AWAY from the town square. Isn't there a pilot that's reading this article that has direct knowledge of what condition these wild turkeys are in when they are retrieved in the square? There's a BIG difference in a wild turkey and those wildly modified white things grown for consumption!

Posted by: Martie Williams | October 12, 2011 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Animal cruelty? Animals are (by nature) cruel. Animals live in fear from predators and bully their own kind for resources. People who are "saddened" should take a day to watch how birds treat each other before concluding that this event "looks bad".

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 12, 2011 9:13 AM    Report this comment

Marty -

According to at least some versions of the story, "wild" turkeys are used - not farm grown.

Posted by: Rush Strong | October 12, 2011 9:22 AM    Report this comment

In response to turkeys running wild in the cockpit and causing a crash, a small hood over the birds head keeps them relatively calm.

Posted by: Bert Rodgers | October 12, 2011 9:25 AM    Report this comment

Thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: tom connor | October 12, 2011 9:41 AM    Report this comment

It is likely that the FAA is more concerned about the lack of control on the turkeys once they are dropped. With a pumpkin or watermellon, there is a fairly reliable trajectory that the dropped object will follow. As such, the bombardier can rely on basic physics to have the dropped object land in a designated area +/- safety zone. By dropping a live Turkey, there is a distinct possibility that the Turkey becomes an uncontrolled object as the Turkey is alive (and capable of thought/action) and as such there is no planned trajectory. If the Turkey decides to fly during the descent and he tracks off the dead weight trajectory, the impact zone is now random. If the Turkey gets tired (or forgets how to fly) he will then plummet down to a random location. As such, this could be an impact point that would have adverse effect on persons or property. This is where the FAA will certainly have heartburn.

Posted by: Gary Readio | October 12, 2011 9:46 AM    Report this comment

I think the author was sidestepping the morality of the event, instead focusing on why the FAA needs to be involved. As others have pointed out, there's no FAR being violated, so I'm not sure why the FAA needs people there. Local law enforcement could easily photograph the event for evidence, and get the tail number. They could even have a plane in the area to follow the suspect aircraft and determine the identity of the pilot and passengers. What assistance would the FAA be able to provide from the site anyway?

I'm not condoning the behavior of the pilots (it seems a pretty cruel thing to do, even if the bird is destined for the dinner table). Just wondering what I'm getting for my FAA-targeted tax dollars.

Posted by: Brad Koehn | October 12, 2011 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Dogs & Coyotes fight each other in the wild so I'm guessing that makes human intervention in dog fighting ok? I'll let Mike Vic know. Flawed logic. Things like cruelty and fear are anthropomorphic qualities. Animal behavior is based on genetic instinct along with conditioning. The wild turkey is not conditioned to be thrown from a high speed moving aircraft and thus, behavior is unpredictable. The argument that cruelty happens in nature is not applicable in this case. This is human intervention.

Posted by: Shannon Forrest | October 12, 2011 10:15 AM    Report this comment

Ok, guys, let's put this into it's proper perspective. First, we're talking about birds and birds have wings. So, we're not talking about "sacks of cement". We're talking a less than desirable glide ratio. But, the Space Shuttle (RIP) has a less than optimal glide ratio, too. We didn't a single hysterical voice at the Cape, did we? I will confess that we in Arkansas are not quite as bright as the rest of the country, on the whole, but in truth what we have done isn't animal cruelty. It's an aviation experiment. It's not like they are tossing ostriches out into the big breeze. Just as an aside, did you all know that every bird species on New Zealand are flightless? Anyway, I don't think of the turkey flight experiments are being cruel, but rather they are the subject of Darwinian experiments. I have it from reliable sources that should one of those turkeys actually descend on a glide path that is survivable then Tyson will breed that turkey back into the flock to create a new species of domestic turkey that will be released back into the wild. Just think how camouflaged they will be in the snow of our Arkansas winters. Respectfully yours, Ned Neidermier.

Posted by: John Dent | October 12, 2011 10:29 AM    Report this comment

Shannon, it's flawed logic to equate pets and wild animals. Having wild animals as pets is dumb. Setting pets free in the wild is dumb. Setting a wild turkey loose in the wild blue yonder is simply intriguing.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 12, 2011 10:38 AM    Report this comment

"I think the author was sidestepping the morality of the event"

Being basically a gutless worm, the author is indeed sidestepping the moral issue. I would have to see it to pass judgement on the cruelty issue and Yellville isn't in my travel plans. I will readily concede the cruelty argument is not without merit.

What I was trying to illuminate is the fundamental ludicrousness of a federal agency openly admitting it's getting involved in such a thing. Of all the things government might do to better the lives of the citizenry it's supposed to serve, sending one or more highly paid employees out to bust pilots for tossing turkeys is surely near the bottom of the list. If nothing else, it shows a failure of imagination.

I would hope, vainly perhaps, that someone in the agency--perhaps at the FSDO level--would pause and say...no, we don't need to do this.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 12, 2011 11:03 AM    Report this comment

I won't venture to say how the expelled turkey views the experience, other than to agree he is at least highly concerned. However, as pointed out the wild turkey is actually a bird that can fly, not a slightly mobile white meat breast like the product you purchase at the market. Unless one breaks a wing or something, they will recover & land unharmed.

Interesting to me is how general society is coming to view animals since we have now been antiseptically isolated from the source of our food for several generations. When I was a kid back in the ‘40s we grabbed the chicken and broke its neck with a quick snap; no one jumped out to accuse us of being cruel. When a dog needed putting down, be it the family pet or an unwanted stray, we simply did it; today you will be arrested for that.

Tossing a turkey lies somewhere between this 1940s attitude (which in my mind is perfectly acceptable) and the sicko who tortures an animal for the sheer fun of it. Maybe a little out there because it is an unnecessary behavior that is certainly disturbing to the bird, but not a deadly moral failure to get overly excited about.

Posted by: John Wilson | October 12, 2011 11:03 AM    Report this comment

If the turkey's concerned about the flight, what about the soon to follow trip to the oven!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | October 12, 2011 11:45 AM    Report this comment

Just a few questions. Did the turkeys go thru the TSA security screening? Were they wanded, get a full body scan or did the turkeys get the full pat down? When the turkeys jumped out of the plane was it a static line jump or free fall. Did the turkeys sign a liability wavier? Oh gosh, I didn't know you were talking about birds.

Posted by: John Stewart | October 12, 2011 12:07 PM    Report this comment

On a serious note. The towns people do not seem to have a problem with this long standing tradition. Sounds like some politically correct people who probably do not even live in Arkansas are trying to force their values on these people and using the government insure the towns people comply. If the people of this town had a problem with the turkey drop, I'm sure they would have stopped it years ago. Everyone else should just butt out of their business.

Posted by: John Stewart | October 12, 2011 12:17 PM    Report this comment

If they have been dropping live turkeys for 50 years (since "the 1960s") without an impact incident, I see no reason to issue an AD grounding the turkeys at this time. On a legal note, it seems if they wrung the necks of the turkeys before throwing them out the window that should give the turkey a humane* death and eliminate or mitigate any issues related to erratic flight of a live bird.

This whole incident just proves we have a bunch of bird-brains running around in Washington spending taxpayer dollars to solve problems that don't exist.

*at least as humane as turkeys found in the grocery store

Posted by: Jim Dunn | October 12, 2011 12:37 PM    Report this comment

Gary Readio said, "If the Turkey gets tired (or forgets how to fly) he will then plummet down to a random location."

Gary~

Turkeys are born with wings and were meant to fly. In fact, wild turkeys are very accomplished and agile aviators. But flying is problematic for a domesticated turkey raised inside a shed. Most thanksgiving turkeys are now bred so their breasts are abnormally outsized, making them aerodynamically incapable of flight. (All that breast meat means their thrust-to-weight ratio is too low.) There is also a good chance that when raised inside a building, their mommies never had the chance to give them flying lessens, and when flung out the window, are soloing for the first time.

We at least need some Federal agency to implement a "Learn to Fly" program for domesticated turkeys to make sure they have an adequate thrust-to-weight ratio, have passed a practical skills test, and have been cleared solo before getting tossed out the window.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | October 12, 2011 12:46 PM    Report this comment

Takes me back to when I was a young ace, 17 air cadets, learning to fly in a fleet 80, indestructible aircraft thankfully, throwing roles of toilet paper out the window and chasing the streamers. Learnt a lot about steep turn and cross control stalls, and sometimes resulting spins, great fun. Now if we had wild turkeys up our way.

Posted by: Nick Chapman | October 12, 2011 3:15 PM    Report this comment

I'm trying to form a thoughtful comment on this but first I have to get the banjo from 'Deliverance' out of my head...

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 12, 2011 3:26 PM    Report this comment

"I have to get the banjo from 'Deliverance' out of my head..."

Dave,

When I think of those turkeys, the theme song from the old Benny Hill Show keeps running through my head -- "Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | October 12, 2011 11:16 PM    Report this comment

"Being basically a gutless worm, the author is indeed sidestepping the moral issue."

So you are going to chicken out on the turkey debate? That just isn't going to fly on this forum. Wait until the FAA reads this. Your goose will be cooked. Thinking up bad bird puns (in aviation it's all about redundancy) is hard work, so I'll quit before someone wings me.

Posted by: Scott Miller | October 13, 2011 11:08 AM    Report this comment

As a longtime admirer of "WKRP Cincinnati" (one of the best written sit-coms ever) I agree with Paul. Living now in The Wilds Of New Jersey I can attest that wild turkeys can and do fly. Domestic turkkeys have lost that ability.

Posted by: Franklin Porath | October 13, 2011 11:16 AM    Report this comment

Around here they do turkey shoots at the local gun club. they put the turkey in a box with its head sticking out and shoot at it from 100 yards or so. who ever can shoot the head off gets to keep the turkey. Somehow giving it a chance at least to fly away seems like a better option if I was the turkey.

Posted by: william Lawson | October 13, 2011 11:21 AM    Report this comment

After watching two more videos of the Yellville Turkey Trot than I ever dreamed I'd watch, I can report that of the 6 birds shown 3 were flyers and 3 must still have been frozen judging by the rate of descent and the sound they made "landing". Apparently, no turkeys were dropped this year, much to the disappointment of the attendees. I doubt any of the FAA folks got a kiss of thanks from Miss Drumstick.

Posted by: Robert Davison | October 13, 2011 11:25 AM    Report this comment

A 30 pound wild turkey would be a record-sized bird and more likely to get shot, not captured for a turkey drop. 15-20 pounds is more like it. It's hard to see how a wild turkey would "forget how to fly" so either these aren't really wild turkeys, or they were injured during the release. If they are domestic turkeys--seems highly likely, as wild turkeys would be hard to trap--then they're so incredibly stupid they probably have no idea what's going on. The "splat" can't be any worse than how they are regularly butchered. We kept a few dozen turkeys about 30 years ago and they were literally so stupid they didn't know enough to come in out of a hailstorm (we found this out the hard way, dead birds resulted). Strikes me that breeding birds for breast meat and breeding out all intelligence might be considered animal cruelty in its own right.

Posted by: David Chuljian | October 13, 2011 11:30 AM    Report this comment

There are several videos on You Tube showing the festival and the turkey drop. At the 2010 drop two out of four wild turkeys tossed out of the plane did the bomb thingie, but the other two glided away. Check out this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uJiHC15e90

Posted by: Unknown | October 13, 2011 12:09 PM    Report this comment

This kind of local quirkiness makes life funny and interesting, and at least colorful. Take it away and the world is bland and same and dull. From what I've seen of Yellville, don't rule out air cannons or trebuchets if the FAA tries to regulate birds near aircraft.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | October 13, 2011 12:52 PM    Report this comment

I'm OK with the turkey drop (I pick banjo here in Georgia...really! :-), but of more concern is the airframe. Having dropped a bunch of stuff out of airplanes, it's best to get it out the door low as possible to avoid striking the stabilizer. On yeah, don't try this on a Cessna 337 or you will get turkey salad...

Posted by: A Richie | October 13, 2011 1:23 PM    Report this comment

I'm pretty sure if I was a turkey I'd rather be tossed out of a plane than have my head stuck in one of those turkey-head shredders that are normally used to slaughter them. By the way I'm a big fan of PETA...people eating tasty animals.

Posted by: Karl Schneider | October 13, 2011 1:43 PM    Report this comment

Now, this here ban on throwing turkeys out-a airplanes . . . it isn't gonna affect cat sky-diving activities, is it?

Posted by: Gary Kerr | October 13, 2011 2:18 PM    Report this comment

Throw the FAA observers out of the plane. Send the birds back to Washington. Everyone's happy. Except the turkeys.

Posted by: Evan Nicholson | October 13, 2011 2:33 PM    Report this comment

Anyone who knows me even a little knows I support aviation always, but I have to say in this case it seems to me the pilots brought this on themselves, creating a potentially very dangerous situation by forced disembarkment of large, wild animals from their plane. Can't really blame the FAA for sending down (down having several interpretations here)a few agents to check on such thoughtless airborne behavior.

As said here often about other pilots who run out of fuel or give GA another black eye, why are these fowl dropping pilots not held to the same standard?

Really, it's not about who is playing the banjo there, though I doubt it's Bela Fleck or Pete Seeger, once again it's pilots who could have said NO to such aerial stupidity that have created a federal intrusion.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." -Albert Einstein

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 13, 2011 3:07 PM    Report this comment

91.15 "No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that creates a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property."

Note the FAA language uses the word "drop". But, if the bird "flies" out of or away from the airplane upon being released, is this really considered "dropping"? It would be more like an aerial launch event. Where is Bill Clinton when we need him? :-)

Posted by: A Richie | October 13, 2011 3:34 PM    Report this comment

WKRP in Cincinatti...

More news, Les Nessman.

(Always wanted to say that.)

Posted by: Jim Pearsall | October 13, 2011 3:51 PM    Report this comment

If they had just requested a waiver and said is was for Terminal Urban Research Key Environmental Yielding(TURKEY)it would probably have been approved by the FAA. They probably could even get some stimulus money if they said it was a green project. Then eveyone would be happy, government showing a shovel ready project in the works and help in feeding the poor people of this town waiting for assistance from above, (shovels for the birds that opted not to cooperate and flap/glide), the town for the government assistance and helping organize the event and turkey ranglers who now have job security. Probably even get a few politicians from DC to say a few words. ;)

Posted by: John Stewart | October 13, 2011 6:19 PM    Report this comment

Something comes to mind about soaring like an eagle.. wait wait, dont remind me I'll remember.

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 13, 2011 11:43 PM    Report this comment

If the turkeys from the FAA go there, maybe they should be careful that they aren't converted into meals.

Posted by: Michael Schupp | October 14, 2011 5:55 AM    Report this comment

"Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top Reckon they never will..."

Posted by: Rush Strong | October 14, 2011 7:21 AM    Report this comment

As Patty intimated, with turkeys flying planes, falling out of them, and watching from the ground, woe, 'I am a Man of Constant Sorrow.'

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 14, 2011 1:07 PM    Report this comment

OK I remember now. "Its hard to soar like an eagle when you fly with turkeys” Maybe they first observe each wild turkey for their flying abilities before they capture them, then pick the most skilled ones for the event. Yep, that's the solution. Even observing and rating the landings would be an extended fun part of the event. We have many wild turkeys’ here where I live. They all have varying degrees of flying ability I have noticed. There that’s my official 2 cents.

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 14, 2011 1:26 PM    Report this comment

OK I remember now. "Its hard to soar like an eagle when you fly with turkeys” Maybe they first observe each wild turkey for their flying abilities before they capture them, then pick the most skilled ones for the event. Yep, that's the solution. Even observing and rating the landings would be an extended fun part of the event. We have many wild turkeys’ here where I live. They all have varying degrees of flying ability I have noticed. There that’s my official 2 cents.

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 14, 2011 1:26 PM    Report this comment

The old saw about if you can remember that episode...heard this on the news the other day and immediately thought of WKRP. Thanks for the giggle.

Posted by: David Friedman | October 15, 2011 12:17 PM    Report this comment

Thanks guys - had a really good laugh here in Saudi (no remarks needed)but there are some great comments and good humour on this posting - keep it up!

Posted by: Mike Walling | October 17, 2011 4:31 AM    Report this comment

I agree (this time anyway) with Paul B. We have Trillions in government-created debt, hundreds of thousands dying in unjust wars, the TSA gropes four year olds and sexually assaults grandmothers like terrorists, and the FAA has nothing better to do than to make a federal case out of this. Sorry, but I was NOT losing any sleep at night over the fear that I might be killed by the splat of a turkey that was avigating above design maneuvering speed. If the idea of the turkey drop sickens you: look the other way - think about something else - stay out of Arkansas.

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | October 17, 2011 10:10 PM    Report this comment

I think its a job for the SPCA, not the FAA since the issue is animal cruelty.

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 17, 2011 11:07 PM    Report this comment

I might know a pilot who has participated in this turkey drop. October in the Ozarks is an exciting time. Cool mornings warm days and colorful mountains. When I was about 8 years I can remember chasing those turkeys-I am not 54. Oddly I do not remember the airplanes-just the thrill of the chase. These turkeys are prized pets for most people who catch them Plenty of my cousins have been successful catchers. In no way is this turkey drop unlawful or inhumane. The FAA is I am sure riding a fence-they can change with the seasons. I know the FAA has unoficially granted permisson in the past. I also know a pilot who was ramped checked by the FAA 2 years ago before dropping turkeys. HE went ahead and dropped turkeys with the inspectors approval . It is a shame some outsiders have come to ruin a nearly 70 year tradition-I do not care who you are-bet you agree. It might be true that a few birds are not able to fly horizontally-but nearly all birds successfully fly to the ground(or on top of the Harp's grocerystore roof!). I hope the phantom pilot is able to strike again-hopefully with the FAA good grace again

Posted by: Dana Woods | October 18, 2011 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I must say that the discussions on “The Turkey Issue” were surprisingly revealing and very disturbing. But then again why should one expect that the aviation population is in anyway lacking the general brutishness and complete lack of understanding of human responsibility representative of many of the members of the population at large? I would recommend that the “Turkey Aviators” pursue “The Human Way” in Turkey Dropping—that is kill the Turkey first. Imagine the enhancement of pilot skills that a pilot could derive from “wringing the neck” of the Turkey before the drop. In sequence these pilots should definitely pursue more advanced techniques in advancing their pilot careers as for example dog, cock and bull fighting. Any “Simulator Training” and stimulants these pilots could possibly get from the “innocence” of shows like studio wrestling is highly recommended to release built up tension. However, what does concern me the most is that I have to share the air space with these bewildered “aviators” with apparently greatly degraded decision making competence. My only hope is that most of the contributors who seem to condone this activity would not know how to get an airplane to the runway.

Posted by: Helge Skreppen | October 19, 2011 6:08 AM    Report this comment

Wasn't there a "Bax Seat" article in Flying magazine decades ago about dropping an angora cat out of a Piper Cub? If I recall correctly, the cat would wait for the plane to land, and hop in for another go. Where was Big Brother then?

Posted by: Ripley Quinby | October 19, 2011 8:50 AM    Report this comment

Yes, but was the "choice" of the cat. ;-)

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 19, 2011 1:48 PM    Report this comment

My father told me when i was leaning to fly. "You will meet SOME very nice people." He was absolutely right. Although somehow I don't think he meant it the same way I have experienced it. Same in life I suppose. The sky less traveled is equal to the road less traveled. Read books by "M.Scott Peck" for more clarification on the road/sky less traveled.

Posted by: Patty Haley | October 19, 2011 1:54 PM    Report this comment

I know this is a late response, but I've only just managed to get around to reading this discussion. Two points: I had an farmer uncle in Kansas who (once!) tried raising turkeys but said they devised more ways of committing suicide then he could have believed possible. John Dent was incorrect to say all New Zealand birds are flightless. True, the trend over millions of years has been that way because of the lack of mamallian predators, but the country has plenty of expert native fliers and even had an eagle (now extinct) with 10 foot wingspan. There's a major problem with birds facing extinction because of introduced rats, hedgehogs, stoats and other nasties. The stoats, for example, were introduced to try to control the introduced rabbits which bred like, well, rabbits, but the mustelids found ground-nesting birds tastier and easier to catch. Shades of "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" ... New Zealand has NO native land mammals apart from a couple of species of bats. No snakes either.

Posted by: John King | October 19, 2011 10:11 PM    Report this comment

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