In an effort to help save endangered cranes on their southern migration Russian President Vladimir Putin took flight in an ultralight aircraft early last month. Accompanied by pilot Igor Nikitin in the two-seat trike aircraft the ultralight helped lead a flock of rare White Siberian Cranes to their migration route. Putin wore a white jumpsuit in an effort to help resemble the birds, however only a single crane was found to follow the aircraft’s first flight. The second flight a few more cranes started to follow, but several dropped off later.
In addition to ultralight aircraft news this flight has caused quite a stir in the internet blogging world. Criticism of Putin’s PR stunts are again being brought up after last year’s so-called discovery of two ancient urns from the Black Sea. Two urns being dicovered clean and in pristine condition left the Russians to contemplate the obviously staged discovery. However, President Putin appears to enjoy nature and a challenge. Putin has logged 17 hours in the air with Nikitin and only has 8 hours left to log before earning his pilot certificate in Russia. Putin appears to enjoy his newfound hobby with personal aircrafts.
President Putin’s interest in the migration of these endangered cranes has compelled him to puchase his own motorized hang glider. Eventually he has said he will give his hang glider to crane researchers to further their relocation project. Whether the use of ultralights and personal aircrafts will help the migration of this species is still unclear as the first two flights only encouraged a few birds to follow. However, with only 3,000 Siberian cranes left in the wild this type of encouragement may be needed to train those cranes bred at the endangered bird sanctuary in Siberia.
The project to help relocate these cranes is called Flight of Hope. It attempts to help teach captivity bred cranes the migration route from Siberia to Central Asia. This is one of the most recent Russian preservation programs and scientists are looking to find the next animal species to help preserve. Surely the President will be involved for publicity.