KUALA LUMPUR–“The most challenging yet interesting experience in my career was when I took sharp corners at high speed, launched life missiles, and dropped bombs during training,” said the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) fighter pilot, Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin.
She said those are among the exercises performed by a pilot of a fighter aircraft and as such, I encourage young people to join RMAF as the prospects are good besides the scope of work is very varied, interesting and challenging.
“As a military pilot one should have high confidence level and skillful in handling weaponry systems in the fighter aircraft,” she said when contacted by Malaysia World News recently.
Patricia Yapp who has served RMAF for 20 years said, she will be very happy and most satisfied when the bullets launched and bombs she dropped reached the targeted spots normally in the forests and hilly areas.
However, she recalled her bitter experience in 2005 when the engine of Aermacchi aircraft that she flown with a student had stopped at 6,000 feet in Butterworth. With her technical knowledge and following the standard operating procedures (SOP), she took the necessary steps very fast and managed to continue the flight without ejecting out.
Another unforgettable incident was in 2008 when the MiG fighter aircraft’s engine stopped on air at Korat, Thailand in one of her training exercises. She was alone and had survived without ejecting out of the plane.
Asked why fighter aircrafts fly in various styles and not like ordinary planes, Patricia Yapp said: “Fighter aircrafts have to be agile on air, fly up or down and sometimes sideways to avoid from missiles’ attacks or to drop bombs at the targeted place. A good fighter jet will do arrow or somersault.
“However, only a well-trained pilot could perform such movements. When taking corners, the pilot has to put on high speed,” she added.
Regarding how she feels being a pilot as it is still a male dominant profession, Patricia Yapp said, she is comfortable working with male pilots. A female pilot should not think like a man but just treat them as friends. A female pilot does not have to become like “a man.”
Women’s emancipation in Malaysia has gone far ahead as there is no border or restrictions for them to join any field they like and Patricia Yapp is a good example. She has achieved her ambition to be the fighter aircraft pilot with Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
Patricia Yapp is also a flight instructor and she is Asia’s first female MiG-29 fighter pilot. She is also the world’s only female MiG-29 Fighter Pilot Flying “Smokey Bandits” Aerobatic Display Team 2012 in Singapore Air Show.
Born and raised in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, Patricia Yapp was the Head Prefect of SM Sung Siew, Sandakan. She joins RMAF because she likes to serve in uniform services besides being inspired by her older brother who is a pilot with Malaysia Airlines.
After completing high school, she moved to Kuala Lumpur to study law at Inti College in Subang Jaya. However, in 1997 she left her study half way to join the Royal Malaysian Air Force cadet programme. She was attached to the RMAF College, Kedah for three years and two years at the Flying Training Center 1, Alor Setar, Kedah for two years.
After completing her flight training in 2002, she chose to be a fighter pilot and flew Aermacchi MB-339 aircraft for four years. Later in 2006, she became an operational and tactical lead pilot with the No. 17/19 Smokey Bandits Squadron in Kuantan that flies the MiG-29N Fulcrum air superiority jets.
In 2010, Patricia Yapp married to Weapon Sensor Officer (RMAF) Major Thayala Kumar and now they have two children, Ruben 6, and Soumiya 5.
Patricia said, without her husband’s support and encouragement she will not be where she is now.-Malaysia World News