Putin's Trike Flight With Siberian Cranes

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Russian president Vladimir Putin Wednesday took flight with a pilot who flew with him in a two-seat trike aircraft as part of a project that would lead rare Siberian white cranes on a migration route. Pilot Igor Nikitin flew with Putin and said the Russian president has logged 17 hours in the air. Russian regulations would allow Putin to earn a pilot certificate for the craft in a minimum of 25 hours flight time, according to Nikitin. Putin's flights were successful, but not particularly good at leading cranes.

As the aircraft flew its first flight with the cranes, Wednesday, only one joined with it in formation. On a second flight, five of the birds joined in formation with the Russian president, but after two circuits around the field, three of the birds had dropped out of formation. For his part, Putin told RiaNovosti that his interest in the program led him to purchase his own motorized hang glider. He says he will later hand the aircraft over to researchers involved in the crane relocation project.