Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Manliest of world leaders, Vladimir Putin has never met a sporting photo op he didn't like. So it's precisely zero surprise to see the Russian president flying an ultralight aircraft, leading a flock of endangered birds on their first migration.


The Siberian Cranes were born in captivity, and needed to be helped on their first flight south. Their human handlers have dressed in baggy white clothes, so Putin donned his best mama crane outfit before taking off. But, you don't need me to tell you this. We've all seen Fly Away Home multiple times.

"For cranes, the parent is a man in a white robe," Yuri Markin, the director of the game preserve that reared the chicks, told Russian News Service, a radio network. "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."

What's not clear is if the migration actually worked. A Russian news agency reported that on his first flight, only one of the six birds took to the skies with Putin—high winds were blamed. On his second flight, five birds followed up, but after circling a few times only two were left. At this point the cameras were shut off. So either the cranes got their shit together for this mysterious, undocumented third flight, or they were all swiftly executed with a bullet behind the ear.

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