SURVIVOR: This turkey survived a turkey drop in a past Yellville festival, though others through the years have not.
Dana Woods, a Mountain View alderman and also at Woods Pharmacy in downtown Mountain View, apparently delivered Friday on a pledge to continue dropping live domesticated turkeys from an airplane over people gathered for Yellville's annual Turkey Trot.
Initially, the birds dropped straight down for a bit. Then most of them got their bearings, spread their wings and glided to a landing.
Bowden's story doesn't explicitly say Woods piloted the plane Friday, but all indications seem to be that he did, as he's done a number of years previously, and he's quoted again. He said he wasn't "intimidated" by critics.
If' the pilot abided by FAA rules, the plane was at least 500 feet in the air when the turkeys — likely not happy about being grabbed and transported in a noisy plane — were thrown out. Put yourself in a turkey's brain during the first moments of that free fall. Happy? So some got their wings out and glided in for a final landing. One didn't. No reports on condition of the five that lived as they were chased and roughly handled by captors in what some in Yellville, including Woods, a nominal provider of medical relief to humans, think is high sport.
More drops seem likely today.
Woods at least is owning up this year to the frolic. He has, however, either taken down the Phantom Pilot Facebook page on which he's boasted of his animal cruelty exploits for years, or maybe merely blocked me from viewing it. He knocked me in some doggerel published there earlier in the week. Correction: I am now seeing the page. He's still removing critical comments.
Woods may think his defiance has made him a local hero. And maybe it has. There's also a brisk business in Phantom Pilot T-shirts. But there's been a huge outpouring of resistance to the sideshow at a festival that otherwise could be an unobjectionable and homespun tribute to the poultry industry. If he drops more today, there will be still more pressure that authorities take action. Local official Woods seems unconcerned. This is Yellville and Arkansas, after all.
The Yellville Chamber of Commerce did delete references to festival sponsors from its website, presumably to spare them association with an event that has produced thousands and thousands of objections.
More turkey terrorism seems likely today, unless such sponsors as Arvest Bank and Harps grocery could perhaps get the word out that — no matter how much some locals think it's really funny to be inhumane to turkeys — others aren't so amused. Here's one petition drive.
If more turkeys plummet to deaths today? Just another proud moment for Dana Woods, his cousins who do the tossing and all those who cheer the mishandling of dumb animals. Barb Klug, 66, of Bull Shoals, who claimed the turkey fatality for a future dinner, remarked to the D-G's Bowden: "out of all bad comes some good, they say."
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Bill Bowden reported today that a woman who scooped a turkey killed after being thrown from an airplane Friday over the Yellville Turkey Trot was a volunteer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This and other complaints will linger after a year in which two of 10 turkeys pitched from planes died in the fall. /more/
Will they or won't they drop terrified turkeys out of an airplane over Yellville at the Turkey Trot festival this year. Animal rights activists worldwide are waging a lobbying campaign to stop it and there's evidence it's getting results. Or at least embarrassment. /more/
My post about the barbaric practice of dropping terrified turkeys from an airplane at 500 feet — apparently the only thing that can get a crowd to visit Yellville, Ark. — has gone as viral as avian flu through the passionate animal protection community. /more/
A New York Times article takes note of the competition for statuary on the Arkansas Capitol grounds since the legislature decreed that the Ten Commandments should be memorialized there for — wink, wink — their "historical" significance. /more/