Until recently, Stoddard and Sean Swan have tried to avoid flying in the rain. This has been difficult because of their responsibilities. You see, they are responsible for locating items not available in Ballymore — things such as eggs and spices and cloth. The list is endless. Sometimes, they have flown as far as 50 miles to get something requested by an animal resident.
The problem with flying in the rain is that water runs up their bills and gets in their eyes. This makes it very hard to see. Of course, the problem is even worse at night. One night they were returning to Ballymore with two loads of eggs. It was rainy and windy. Suddenly, Sean accidentally crashed into Stoddard because he just couldn’t see through the rain. Neither was injured but about half of the eggs were lost.
In general, it’s not a good idea to crash into a swan when you are flying.
They told Reginald Rabbit about the problem, and he made special waterproof head masks for them. Hopefully, the masks would funnel the water away from their eyes. Today, the forecast was for spotty rain and they would be wearing their masks for the first time. Their task was to pick up butter and sugar for Petunia Porcupine. They helped each other put on the harness baskets and then the new head masks. Everything fit well but they were the strangest looking swans you ever saw.
Soon they were flying east, just below the clouds. Rain could be seen falling from a few of the clouds. They chose a particularly wet looking one and flew directly into it. Within seconds, they were soaked in a cool shower. Rain ran up each mask and then off the sides in two small streams of water. The only water that got in their eyes was from the direct rain. This was not a big problem. They simply blinked their eyes occasionally like windshield wipers. Reginald’s invention was working very well and they were quite pleased.
It took about an hour to reach their destination and didn’t take long to load the butter and sugar. Soon they were on their way back to Ballymore.
The rain became heavier and Sean noticed that some of it was getting underneath his mask. Suddenly, the mask slipped and completely covered his eyes. He shook his head and tried to move it but he couldn’t. He was literally flying blind. He started to weave and yelled, “I can’t see!”
Stoddard saw what had happened and quickly flew up on Sean's right side. He yelled, “I'll guide you down. Do exactly as I say!”
The two big swans began to glide in a large circle while slowly descending. Luckily, there was a large pond nearby on which they could land.
When they where about 100 feet over the pond, Stoddard provided continuous flight control directions.
“Turn left now. Straighten out.”
“Wings in landing postion.”
“Less angle. Very good!”
“75 feet until touchdown.”
“Feet up. Wings in. Head up”
“10 feet. 5 feet. Touchdown!
“Congratulations, we did it!”
Both swans slid smoothly to a stop on the pond. This was probably the first swan assisted landing in history.
“Thank you brother. As always, we make a good team but I would rather not go through that again,” said Sean.
“I agree,” said Stoddard.
It seems that one of the straps holding Sean’s mask had come loose. They tightened it securely and resumed their flight to Ballymore. Neither a pat of butter nor grain of sugar had been lost.