Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Subscribe to Email Updates

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Tag: President Reagan

Reagan and the “Turkey Bird”

Today’s post is by Duke Blackwood, Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Follow them on their Facebook page.

President Reagan during the presentation of the Thanksgiving turkey from National Turkey Federation President William Prestage and Executive Vice President Lew Walts in the Rose Garden, 11/23/1982. (Reagan Library, C11441-20)

One normally doesn’t associate turkeys with flying.  However, in 1966 they became synonymous with flight during Ronald Reagan’s first race for political office—Governor of California. Covering such a large state was advance man Curtis Patrick’s nightmare, as Reagan was reticent to fly and preferred to drive. But it soon became a necessity for the candidate to fly.

Enter Mervin Amerine, a former B-29 Superfortress pilot turned turkey farmer who had three DC-3 aircraft capable of ferrying up to 48,000 live baby turkeys per plane to various destinations.

The DC-3 was a workhorse in World War II, which made it well suited for flying to remote campaign locations that often did not have paved runways.  Being a huge fan of Mr. Reagan, Amerine offered one of his planes to the campaign. Of course, only after he had cleaned it up and added 28 seats.

On a bright and beautiful day in the idyllic town of Calistoga, California, Patrick introduced Ronald Reagan to Amerine on a weed-infested gravel runway. With the press corps in tow, they all … [ Read all ]