Can Turkeys fly? The FAA may have to decide, not in an airliner, but after being tossed out of an airplane.

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The subject of protecting turkeys, particularly Wild Turkeys, has been discussed here before. The term “turkey” carries with it certain humorous or even derisive connotations and has even been known to be used as a term to cast aspersions on government employees, say an FAA investigator who has issued a LOI against you.

With that background, the below headline indicating that the aviation safety agency is protecting these fowls is a bit ironic. If one forgives the extension of this analogy, the FAA issues warnings about passengers with excess carry-on’s and now they are attempting to preserve these flying predators who solely consume carrion.

No seriously, the people of Yellville, AR have an annual ritual in which the residents take to flight and drop these winged fowl (see above within the yellow circle) from aircraft. The editors of HuffPost Green found this practice newsworthy, which started in 1946 and found that two sources found the event problematic. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called the event cruel and offered a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.


The FAA spokesperson indicated that investigators are determined to learn who the turkey bombers are, but “everybody says,`We have no idea who it is,’ but everybody knows who it is.” The FARs, 14 CFR §91.15, prohibits the dropping objects of objects from aircraft. The proscriptive language is as follows:

“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.” [emphasis added]

As with many FARs, there may be some debate as to whether the pilot took “reasonable precautions” to protect the turkeys when they drop toward the county courthouse. The argument devolves to whether turkeys can fly and the oracle of all truth, the internet, states that:

“Wild turkeys feed on the ground, which may have something to do with the myth that they can’t fly. The have to fly, however, because they roost in trees at night. Some accounts say they can soar up to 55 mph for short bursts.”


F. Dustan Clark, a Cooperative Extension Service poultry health veterinarian with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, added: “Yes they fly well…I understand they can fly a quarter of a mile or so.” That may not be an adequate answer; for the issue here may be whether the bird’s instincts will respond with the necessary wing actions when they are tossed from a plane with forward motion hundreds of feet in the air. There may be an FAA case to determine whether turkeys, tossed from an aircraft can fly under these conditions.

A later report indicates that “the identification number from the airplane in Saturday’s turkey drop appears readable on the basis of photographs in The Baxter Bulletin of Mountain Home. That identification number, N2525G, traces to a 1959 single-engine Cessna 182B registered to Dana Woods of Mountain View.”

This video suggests that one turkey survived as it soared after being “tossed.” It will be interesting to see whether the State comes to the defense of pilot Woods in the FAA Enforcement case? The turkey is its #1 export and the Yellville Turkey Trot is a celebration of that fowl.


ARTICLE: Arkansas Turkey Drop Draws FAA Warnings

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1 Comment on "Can Turkeys fly? The FAA may have to decide, not in an airliner, but after being tossed out of an airplane."

  1. Hector Sanchez | October 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Reply

    Your article seems to confuse Turkeys with Turkey Vultures, 2 very different birds. Turkeys do not feed on carrion as you state, and you have a photo of a Turkey Vulture mixed with pictures of Turkeys.

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