Vladimir Putin looks at a crane while in a motorized handglider

Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

Putin hangs with the cranes

Russian President Vladimir Putin observes a crane before taking off into the sky in a motorized hang glider on Sept. 5 at a crane nesting ground and conservation center near the River Ob in the Jamalo-Nentsky region of northern Siberia.

In addition to shooting whales with crossbows and tranquilizing tigers, the Russian politician can now add "flying with endangered cranes" to his list of macho adventures. Putin is well-known for promoting an outdoor-oriented, tough guy image, often taking part in unusual or dangerous acts involving extreme sports and wild animals.

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Vladimir Putin flies in a motorized handglider flanked by cranes

Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

Flying on an artificial bird

A pair of endangered cranes fly alongside Putin in the hang glider. Accompanied by experienced pilot Igor Nikitin, Putin flew with a very small flock of cranes that are about to begin migrating south to Iran and India for the winter. The endangered cranes are close to being driven to extinction by hunters along their migration route.

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Vladimir Putin in a motorized handglider

Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

Bird's-eye view

Putin pilots a motorized hang glider, which he purchased with his own money. The aircraft was later donated to the crane conservation project.

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