LABUAN: Soaring through the vast expanse of the sky at supersonic speed was a typical day at work for Mejar Patricia Yapp Syau Yin (pic) of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), Asia’s first MiG-29 female fighter pilot.
Her sheer courage and competence enabled Yapp, 41, from Sandakan, to become “one of the boys” and on par with her male colleagues.
She said that she was interested and developed a deep passion to fly a fighter jet since her childhood years.
“Some of my experiences, including as a fighter pilot for five years from 2003 to 2007, was followed by my appointment as a flight instructor training students to fly a Pilatus PC-7 Mk II at the RMAF Training College in Kepala Batas, Kedah,” she said during a Media Day held in conjunction with the 59th RMAF Day at the Labuan RMAF air base recently.
Mejar Yapp said that during her 20 years of service in the RMAF, she was flying two types of fighter jets, namely MB-339 and MiG-29 and had her share of unforgettable experiences.
“While flying the MB-339 fighter jet, the engine developed a problem and caught fire, and I had to make a ‘Mayday’ call, where people would give top priority for us to land on the runway,” she added.
She also had another scare when was flying the MiG-29 fighter jet.
“When I was at my highest altitude, I suddenly experienced lack of oxygen that I fell unconscious for a few seconds before I managed to press a special button that supplied oxygen in the cockpit,” she added.
For RMAF’s first female helicopter pilot Lt-Kol Norhana Abdul Manaf, 43, of Selangor, her decision to join a male-dominated field was the biggest challenge of her life.
“Encouragement and enthusiasm from family and colleagues helped me a lot to be brave in carrying out any RMAF operations,” she said.
She recalled an incident when the helicopter she was flying, which was carrying doctors and medical supplies, developed technical problems that forced her to make a landing at a remote orang asli settlement, where they stayed for three days before help arrived. — Bernama
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