Can Turkeys Fly?


♪♪♪ Hi everyone. My name is Thaddeus, and thanks for joining me here for another look behind the scenes at the Gadgets Stage. Now back in 1978, on October 30th, a brand new sitcom made a little bit of holiday television history. The name of the sitcom was
WKRP in Cincinnati, ♪♪♪ and they filmed a bit about a radio station doing a promotion where they drop Thanksgiving turkeys out of a helicopter. The manager of that station swore to God he thought turkeys could fly. It turned out not the be the case. I can’t tell just yet
what they are but… oh my God, they’re turkeys! They’re crashing to the earth
right in front of our eyes. We decided to put that to the test here at the Gadgets Stage. This is our turkey that we like to use. We named his Carlson, and as you can see even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving, our turkey is already stuffed. Because we like to talk about chemistry and physics here at the
Gadgets Stage, we’re going to use a little bit of liquid nitrogen to see if we can give our turkey a bit of a boost. Now, at 321 degrees below zero
fahrenheit, this liquid nitrogen isn’t going to remain a liquid here in this room
temperature air. It is quickly and rapidly expanding
into a gas. And gases have a lot more pressure, take up more space, and have more energy than liquids do. And so if I were to prevent it from being able to expand out of
the top of this bottle that our turkey is attached to, well it should provide a nice bit of lift for our turkey. Now, this is fundamentally the same way a rocket works. We have turned our turkey and our soda bottle into a little, miniature turkey rocket. And every good rocket needs a countdown so from 5…4…3…2…1… zero…fly, turkey, fly! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Alright, well, with a little bit of nitrogen boost we’re not going to get too much sustained flight
from our turkey. It’s not the most aerodynamic. But I have been wondering… What about real turkeys? What about the actual question… can a turkey fly? To help answer that, I’ve asked the
Manager of our Living Collections, Laurie, to come out and help us out, along with some of her
feathered friends. Sure thing. So, turkeys, in the wild, are actually able to fly, very well, in fact. They can fly about 55mph for short bursts. Unfortunately, our domestic turkeys are bred specifically for meat. so they are just too heavy
to get off of the ground. Now, there are some heritage breeds that can fly, but for the most part, the turkeys we’re thinking of are not going to be able to
get off the ground. The great, big, heavy-breasted, full of nice, juicy white meat ones… Those are the ones. So just like those domestic turkeys we have chickens that are bred for different purposes as well. And these two chickens, one can fly really well
and one can’t. So Spike’s feathers are specifically designed for thermoregulation or to be able to hold heat in. So they don’t have the little barbules on them that are needed to make those flight feathers. So Nora here has fantastic
flight feathers, and she’s just a great little flier. So her wings are better at pushing down on the air getting more of that air pressure…
getting lift? Yep, absolutely. So those feathers zip together, and she’s able to have that pressure that’s needed to be able to
get off the ground. Alright, so a turkey with
some liquid nitrogen can go straight up for a short time. That’s right. A wild turkey…pretty decent flier. Domestic turkeys…not so much. Ok, there you have it. Can turkeys fly? The answer is…
sometimes. That’s right. Alright. My name is Thaddeus. Keep learning. Stay safe, everyone. And have a happy Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for joining us,
Laurie. My pleasure. And thank you, girls. ♪♪♪

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