SURVIVOR: This turkey survived a turkey drop in a past Yellville festival, though others through the years have not.
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.
Six turkeys were dropped; one "died on impact," according to Bill Bowden's story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
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
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."
UPDATE: Bowden reported on the Tuesday following the event
that Klug actually was a volunteer for PETA. She took the dead animal to a vet who provided details on what killed the animal.
Barb Klug, 66, of Bull Shoals said she took the dead bird to a veterinarian in Mountain View, who said it suffered from a fracture of the distal point of the keel bone.
"He had a big wound there, a big wound," said Klug. "He has some wounds on his head, too. The scales on his feet were bleeding. So he really hit hard."
You can't buy the kind of coverage this story gets with AEDC dollars. It's free, "earned" media. And lots of it.
Congratulations Pharmacy Doctor Woods. You showed us. And helped make Arkansas infamous again.
Yuk along with Yellvillians and this video from 2001.