Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the skies in a motorised hang-glider as he led a flock of young Siberian white cranes in flight.
He donned a baggy white costume with a helmet and goggles and was surrounded by several of the young birds, who were born in captivity and therefore do not know how to fly south for the winter.
Environmentalists use an imitation lead crane - the hang-glider - to show them the way after a series of local training fights like the one led by Mr Putin.
Experienced pilots in the Flight of Hope project - based in the Yamal peninsula - will direct them towards warmer southern climes in mid-September.
"They got used to it. They are not afraid, they are overtaking the deltaplane," Mr Putin said after landing.
"They are overtaking, approaching the wing from the left, from the right, from above. Well done. Beautiful guys. Cute. They are three months old but already quite big."
Mr Putin said it had been his idea to fly the aircraft, although it appeared to be steered most of the time by another person in a similar white costume sitting behind him.
A Russian news agency reported that only one crane followed Mr Putin on his first flight, which he attributed to high winds that caused the hang-glider to travel faster than usual.
On the second flight, five birds followed him, but after a few circles only two had stuck with him.
The president is well-known for his macho stunts, including posing with a tiger cub and riding a horse bare-chested.
But critics were quick to mock his latest photo opportunity.
A cartoon by illustrator Sergei Elkin appeared on the internet depicting Mr Putin wearing a crane costume.
In it, he is saying: "Let's decide once and for all. I am an alpha crane."
Meanwhile Mr Putin has used an interview with state-controlled English language network Russia Today to condemn the treatment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by the British legal system.
"They (the British judiciary) decided to extradite him. What is this? Of course it is double standards, that is clear."
He was also asked whether Moscow should rethink its stance on Syria after vetoing three Western-backed UN Security Council
resolutions designed to pressure Mr Assad to end violence that has killed 20,000 people.
But he responded: "Why should only Russia re-evaluate its position? Maybe our partners in the negotiation process should re-evaluate their position."