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Of Younger Brothers, Airplanes and Cheesesteaks

Posted by on July 30, 2013

“Do you want to know what zero gravity feels like?”, Luke asked over the crackle of the radio. This is not something you want to hear from your 20 year-old brother who is piloting an aircraft. Before I had time to answer, he tipped the nose of the airplane down and my stomach jolted.

When I had told Varun earlier last week that Luke wanted to take us flying, he was silent for a moment. And then, with that genuine Varun-ness which is devoid of sarcasm, he said, “An airplane crash would be a quick death…Yes.”

Of course, I had utmost faith in Luke’s piloting abilities. During the 4 years of pursuing his pilot’s license, Luke and I frequently swore I’d be his first passenger. Due to travels and school and living in separate countries, this didn’t happen. It also might have had a tiny bit to do with the fact that in my head, Luke’s still about 9 years old, running around re-enacting John Wayne movies.


L and A

June 2003

At any rate, on Friday morning Varun and I strapped ourselves into an airplane and put our lives in Luke’s hands.

To be fair, I should tell you that I’ve had a growing fear of flying since my first year of university. Despite having flown dozens of times since, for some reason I find it unnerving to be miles above terra firma held up by nothing but sheets of metal, whirring propellors and some dead Italian guy’s principle.


Pre-flight inspection of the plane. They’re looking for “cracks”. (?!?!?)

On board the plane, Luke handed out headsets and asked us “not to talk until after take-off” so he could make sure he got everything right. We were more than happy to comply.


I find selfies a great way to lower anxiety and keep me from distracting the pilot.

I guess I’ve gotten used to flying in commercial airliners, because once we were 2000 feet up that Cessna felt like a lawnmower with wings.


It was a pretty epic flight. We got to experience zero gravity (read: roller coaster minus the tracks), and Varun got to steer the plane. Um, yeah, that was my reaction too.


We even did a flyover of my parent’s house where my sister, cousin, Dad, niece and nephew were waving in the driveway.



It turns out Luke is an excellent pilot. He handled the plane expertly, gave us an informative aerial tour of Chester County, and even treated us to cheesesteaks for lunch! (Don’t worry, the cheesesteak was after the zero gravity demonstration.)



Thanks, Luke!

Thoughts? I love hearing from you!