"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
It's the perfect punchline delivered at the end of the greatest Thanksgiving moment ever shown on television. The show: WKRP in Cincinnati, in its first season. The episode: "Turkeys Away." First airing the night before Halloween 1978 (and not in November, as erroneously reported by some outlets), it was a golden age of sitcom TV.
"The opportunity to see Les Nessman recount the falling of the turkeys in the style of the Hindenburg was just, tears to your eyes," recalled actor Tim Reid, who played DJ Venus Flytrap on the show, in an excellent and comprehensive oral history of the episode. "I mean, who takes on the Hindenburg, and does a comedy? Takes one of the great tragedies in this country, and puts it in a comedy show? We went there."
After the hilarity of the turkey drop moment, the coup de grace arrived during the end credits of the episode: "The famous line from that show, 'As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly,' is famous because, at the moment – and it’s like it was yesterday, I can see it – the genius of Hugh Wilson and Gordon Jump came together," recalled actor Gary Sandy, who played program director Andy Travis on WKRP. "Gordon Jump was one of the nicest men that ever lived, really, he truly was, and I think his humanity, who the man was – he got by with a lot of stuff because he was just a great human being. Gordon Jump was a very religious guy, so somehow or another 'as God is my witness' is coupled with all that."