It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… Vladimir Putin

The Russian President used a motorized hang-glider to lead a flock of endangered birds to safety.

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REUTERS / Alexsey Druginyn / RIA Novosti / Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks after a flight in a deltaplane, Sept. 5, 2012

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading a country is not enough. On Wednesday, in an operation dubbed “The Flight of Hope,” Putin led six young birds on their maiden migratory flight from the Siberian cold to their warmer, winter habitat.

The Siberian cranes were raised in captivity and were reportedly unable to find their way south without help. The presidential hang-glider took the place of a lead bird, guiding them on the first part of their journey.

This wasn’t Putin’s first oddball publicity stunt. The keen judoka, who is approaching his sixtieth birthday, has been photographed shooting a tiger and once fired a crossbow at a grey whale. In April 2010, he hugged a polar bear and piloted a water bomber above wildfires in central Russia.

Last year, the Russian leader scuba-dived to the submerged ancient Greek city of Phanagoria and joined a band of Harley Davidson bikers, the Night Wolves, on a drive through Novorossiysk.

PHOTOSVladimir Putin. Action Figure