This report, I think, is different than most in that it isn't about any particular flight or trip. Rather, I somewhat briefly describe my experience of the approach and arrival into Rochester, NY (ROC) from Detroit (DTW) on a Delta Connection flight. The flight was always on a Pinnacle Airline (9E) CRJ-200 and would leave from the B or C concourse of the McNamara Terminal. I would go through DTW instead of nonstop from JFK because it got me an extra 500 miles. I'd take the 6am Delta flight out of LGA to Detroit because it was on a 737-800 with AVOD and live TV. That would give me an hour or two to stroll around the terminal, enjoying the tunnel, and getting Popeye's at the end of A -- which always happened to be right near where we pulled in DTW has become my favorite airport in the world; unfortunately I haven't been there since February. I should try to fix that.
Some other things you should know: I used to be a student at the University of Rochester, where I intended to study mathematics. I left because I wasn't enjoying my courses and was really beginning to dislike the area. The main campus is called the "River Campus" and sticks out on a bend in the Genesee River, to the east. It's actually a beautiful campus, especially compared to the rest of the city. If you'd like, check out this map (and I'm sorry it's such low quality, but it's the best one I could find) to get an idea of how the campus is laid out. The approach to ROC's runway 22 skims the river just west of the campus, and you get a very clear view of it on final approach.
Anyway, let's fly!
Clouds consume any view from the windows of our CRJ-200. Not that the plane type matters -- there's nothing to see anyway. The only indication that we are descending is the announcement from the flight attendant. It's fitting to be on one of these though. The bane of many-a-traveler's existence, it is feared and hated for numerous reasons. I like it for that irony alone.
Suddenly, in the vast whiteness outside the window, dots begin to appear. Then lines. It's not rain or snow -- it's the ground. Snow covers the surface as far as the eye can see. My heart drops, and I question why I am returning to such a miserable place. The whiteness turns into a translucent blue and we are over Lake Ontario. A high-speed ferry once traversed the lake from Rochester to Canada, but shut down due to insufficient funding.
The plane banks right as the flaps extend. It gets darker outside as I slowly begin to discover more landmarks. Route 390. The old ferry jetty and the Genesee River. Downtown Rochester. The Kodak plant. Then, partially obscured by a haze, the River Campus of the University of Rochester. Towers. The medical center. Rush Rhees. Hylan hall. The Genesee. Rush Rhees. Railroad tracks. Rush Rhees. The whine of the CF34s increase. The terminal at ROC. Brooks Avenue. 50. 40. 30. 20. 10.
Time stops. Where am I? What am I doing? The aircraft shudders and violently shakes. Have we crashed? Is this heaven? Overwhelmed by questions and fear, I cringe, hoping it all disappears.
But the answer is simple: no. It is runway 22.
Welcome to the frozen wasteland -- Rochester, New York.
On behalf of Pinnacle Airlines and your Detroit-based crew, thank you for flying the Delta Connection.
[Edited 2013-01-08 23:15:50]