Sunday, March 15, 2009

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

...Arthur Carlson, WKRP in Cincinnati

The above quote is from the famous "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode where Station Manager, Arthur Carlson (played by Gordon Jump), arranged to have live turkeys dropped from a helicopter as an advertising stunt on Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be a serious miscalculation. The poor birds plunged to earth, never even having a chance. Their tragic "last flight" was relayed to WKRP listeners by reporter Les Nessman, played by Richard Sanders:

"It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R... P!! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, Johnny, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this!"

Click here for a short clip of audio highlights in RealAudio.

How popular was the WKRP "Turkeys Away" episode? In a poll asking fans to rank the episodes they enjoyed the most, the most current results put this one at #1.

WKRP in Cincinnati was a great comedy back in the day and from that particular show I was convinced turkeys could not fly. As if a weekly sitcom could be a reliable source for information. Seriously though, after hearing that, what would you think?

Turns out they can fly ... a bit. They're not gathering all their friends together in the classic V formation and heading south each year, but since they perch in the lower limbs of trees for the night they can get up the speed and the lift to get to their night time branch.

The ones in our backyard definitely do not fly. I mean, I've never seen them fly. They always walk on to the lawn from the woods and scratch at the grass. They flap their wings and run real fast if we chase them off the grass, but no soaring above the farm looking for small rodents.

And Thanksgiving turkeys, Butterball or Honeysuckle White? Those gobblers never feel the wind beneath their wings. They just sit and eat all day so that you can sit and eat all day.

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