WATCH: WKRP “Turkeys Away!” The Full Episode! – “Oh the humanity!” (Video)
“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.
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 Back2Stonewall.com)
TRIVIA: This famous WKRP episode was loosely based on a real event. In 1946 (some sources say 1945), Yellville, Arkansas inaugurated the “Turkey Trot Festival” which included a wild turkey calling contest, a turkey target shoot, a Miss Drumsticks Pageant and oh yeah: a live turkey release from the roof of the courthouse.
After a few years, someone thought it might be fun to actually toss the poor gobblers out of a low-flying airplane for the event. This repeated for a number of years until 1989 when a national animal-rights protest cast the event in a bad light and the “National Enquirer” splashed a photo of the event across the nation forcing promoters to abandon the turkey drop.