TURKEYS SURVIVE: Four turkeys survived released from buildings in Yellville Friday at opening of the annual Turkey Trot festival. Some have not been so lucky in past years when dropped from an airplane. Baxter Bulletin

The Baxter Bulletin reports that the opening day Friday of the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival included no airplane drop of live turkeys, though four were released from buildings for those in the crowd to capture.

Turkeys can fly short distances, generally at low altitudes, but some locals have delighted over the years in dropping the birds from airplanes. Some of the birds have splattered in the drops and some have survived. Animal rights activists have protested for years, but local officials have refused to act to stop the practice. At least one of the pilots has made little secret of both his activity and his enjoyment of it.


Will the Phantom Pilot return today? It wouldn’t surprise me (see this, for example), though I’d love to be wrong. The local chamber of commerce, which sponsors the festival, has taken pains to say it doesn’t sanction airplane turkey drops. But it also doesn’t say it disapproves of them. It also begs those who disapprove of animal cruelty to stop complaining. Law enforcement officials seem to become hard to reach when this “sport” is underway. A portion of the statement issued by the chamber:

“The release of turkeys from planes has been a part of Turkey Trot for many years, but a third-party individual, not affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, regulates it … Chamber board members, Turkey Trot sponsors, and Chamber members have absolutely no affiliation, jurisdiction, or control over what any individual does in his or her private plane in the air.”

“Regulate.” Uh huh. The chamber can’t get the Phantom Pilot to stop? Uh huh. Critics stop  complaining? Uh huh.


The folks in Yellville simply think it’s fun to see if any of the terrified domesticated birds splatter.

The Chamber doesn’t list event sponsors on its webpage.