Part 1 of my post, 'tis the season to be jolly, and weary of winter weather! Our flight following Thanksgiving from lower Michigan to Houghton, MI in the Keweenaw Peninsula (KCMX) had us weary towards the end due to weather, but it was the issues in the beginning that had us the most aggravated!
A timely arrival to the airport did not make for a timely departure towards CMX. The weather was unbearably cold, below freezing (so much that I wore fleece lined leggings under my jeans for the flight) and our poor plane just would not start. We had asked for a pre-heat, but the one at the FBO we parked at was unavailable. To our great dismay (I still cannot believe this!) not a single working propane pre-heater was available at any other FBO on the field! We were forced to put the plane in a hangar and wait.
But wait! I had a hairdryer with me! Bob soon created a great impromptu space heater. A half hour later (and my hairdryer that now smells like oil!) we were on our way.
After departure, Bob made a comment on how the plane was climbing slower due to full fuel and full luggage. But something still was off, it was climbing a bit too slow for that. It turns out that the gear didn't retract fully. We recycled it, no luck. We landed at Flint just ahead of us and checked it out. Some slush was cleared but nothing obvious. We departed, buzzed the tower who said all looked fine, and were on our way.
As we approached the most northern part of lower MI, the plane found a sudden air-brake. The gear had dropped again. Something was fishy. Luckily, Cadillac airport was just to our west and had a freshly plowed runway. We came in to land and to check out what was going on. It had turned out that when unpacking in lower Michigan, a valve was moved that was used for emergency gear extension, causing us to lose hydraulic pressure and for the gear to drop. So, after two landings, we were finally fixed up and continued on our way.
Our route took us over Lake Michigan where it looked cold and windy below us. We passed several islands with snow covered cliffs that were absolutely picturesque. We'd be sharing a hangar with a TBM, and we heard him on the radio on our way. We thought he'd be way ahead of us due to our stops, but he had encountered 120 knot headwinds and had to stop for fuel! He landed about 10 minutes prior to us at CMX. He did an instrument approach, and we decided to just fly under the clouds since visibility was fine. Although we were under the glideslope for a bit, we made it in with no further problems...until it was time to leave again...