Putin Flies With Birds: In a superhero-like feat, Russian President Vladimir Putin piloted a motorized hang glider over an Arcitc

wilderness to lead six endangered Siberian cranes to their

winter habitat.

"For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe," explained Yuri Markin, the director of the game preserve that reared the chicks. "They don't remember a particular person. They remember the white robe and hood, or on the ultralight, a white helmet — and a special beak that is worn on the head."

Putin donned a loose white robe for the flight, and although the Russian president hardly enjoys universal popularity among his people, the cranes were happy to follow their leader.

Putin has performed other, macho-like stunts in the past to shore up his image, including riding shirtless on a horse in Siberia and diving into the Black Sea to recover two ancient Greek urns.

He also takes his publicity seriously. Masha Gesson, editor of the magazine Vokrug Sveta, ("Around the World"), as well as a prominent long-time critic of Putin, said she was fired this week for refusing to send a photographer to cover the crane stunt.

As for the cranes? Putin led his feathered followers only part way before handing over the controls to a real pilot who will guide them to their final winter destination in Central Asia. via New York Times