FAA: No Objections to Yellville Turkey Drop (Corrected)


The FAA says it has no objections to the controversial Yellville Turkey Drop but that seems to have inflamed controversy over the event even more. The long-standing tradition of dropping live turkeys from a Cessna 172 flying at 500 feet AGL has drawn the ire of animal rights activists in the past and this year the FAA sent an inspector to witness the event. The verdict was that dropping the turkeys didn’t violate any FARs, which allow the dropping of objects from aircraft as long as they can’t damage anything or anyone on the ground. In an interview with The Associated Press, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsdford said it has no jurisdiction over the welfare of the birds, two of which died in the drop. Furthermore, Lunsford told AVweb that the FAA isn’t in a position to approve or disapprove the event, only monitor whether it complies with FARs.

A total of 11 turkeys were dropped in flights that occurred Oct. 7 and 8. On each day one of the birds dropped straight to their deaths. The others were able to glide to the ground, although at least two were caught by people on the ground and will end up on their Thanksgiving tables. The announcement of the continuation of the event prompted a viral backlash aimed at sponsors but defenders of the festival maintain that because wild turkeys can fly, helping them do so from the window of a 172 can’t be cruel. Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, a poultry science professor, told Arkansas Online that, like anything else, turkeys like to make up their own minds about when to go flying. “Placing turkeys in an environment that is new to them is stressful,” she said. “In the case of an airplane, the noise would also be a stress-producing fear reaction. Dropping one from 500 feet is a horrific act of abuse.”