THIS ONE LIVED: A festival goer with a captured turkey. Scott Liles/Baxter Bulletin

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.

She said she’d not provided that background Friday in an interview with Bowden out of concern for her safety. They love to drop turkeys from airplanes in Yellville and many don’t take kindly to those who see entertainment value in terrorizing turkeys.

The woman took the dead bird to a vet.

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.”

Missing in action from the story is any comment from The Phantom Pilot, Mountain View pharmacist Dana Woods, a leader of a local Church of Christ. He’s a staunch defender of the practice and says he’s made many of the flights to drop the turkeys. He and others insist all turkeys can fly and the spectacle is outrageous only to people who don’t understand.


Noted: Fatality rate at this year’s festival was 20 percent — two of 10 birds dropped. Another died Saturday in addition to the bird Klug gathered up. Experts have been quoted as saying turkeys CAN fly for short distances, but they don’t typically attain heights of 500 feet, as the airplane did. And wild turkeys are more capable of flight than domesticated turkeys, which are used in the drops.

PETA has vowed to press for prosecution. Whether local authorities — who’ve long turned a blind eye to the practice — will act is a good question. Sounds like PETA has a solid piece of evidence this year.


I’m informed also that a complaint has been made to the Federal Aviation Administration. Its rules sets limits of height of flights and drops of objects over areas where people are present. So perhaps there is yet more to come. UPDATE: The FAA said it had monitored the flight, at least on Friday, and it complied with rules, according to an article in Thursday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Objects were nonetheless dropped wehre people were present and two of those objects plummeted to the ground in a deadly free fall. Safe? Doesn’t sound like it to me. But I’m not the FAA.

In recent days, the Phantom Pilot has continued to complain about criticism on his Facebook page and taken pains to say that the flights are not officially sanctioned by the Yellville Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the annual festival. No, but an absence of protest from the chamber or any local official enables the flights, along with the cheers of the crowd. This year, the Chamber deleted a page identifying such sponsors as Arvest Bank and Harps grocery. Wrote the Phantom Pilot, before news of the autopsy on one of the dead turkeys:

Listen morons, the city of Yellville nor the Chamber has anything to do with the actual turkey drop. That is done by a mysterious private individual (the phantom), on their own.
That’s like saying the city of Chicago are all in cahoots with drive-by shootings.

Furthermore, Yellville has a population of about 1200. Funny how that increases to about 20,000 during Turkey Trot. Who do you think is coming to the festival? Out-of-Towners! So, stop trying to give the town a bad name. Better yet, why don’t you come & enjoy the festival yourself next year & see what it’s really about?

Turkeys can FLY, unlike those other animals that was slaughtered to make those shoes, belts, and other items you’re wearing

You can go on the page and comment, but if you’re critical your comment will soon be removed and your Facebook account banned from participating. It’s about what you’d expect from someone not willing to stand up publicly for actions with fatal consequences to animals.

Sanctioned or not, I bet the local powers could persuade The Phantom Pilot that it was time to stop giving the world reason to gaze in horror at the sport Yellville has in abusing animals.