KUALA LUMPUR: It seemed like a match made in heaven for two of the country's top guns - Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) combat pilots Captain S. Thayala Kumar Ravi Varman and his bride Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin - who got hitched recently.
Patricia, 34, (call-sign Foxy) is 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, while Thayala Kumar, 32, (call-sign Kunte) is an instructor who trains weapons sensor officers at the No. 18 Squadron that flies the F/A-18D Hornet strike and interdiction jets.
The occasion was all the more memorable as it was not only steeped in military tradition but was conducted with a blend of true Malaysian culture, where the couple were resplendent in traditional attire instead of their standard flying suits.
Astro recorded the occasion for its My Story programme scheduled to be aired soon.
After tying the knot at a traditional Hindu ceremony at the Sri Raja Rajeswary temple in Ampang on June 24, they proceeded for the Christian rites at the Church of Our Lady Of Guadalupe in Puchong two days later, followed by a Malay dinner reception held at the Dewan Puspanita in Jalan Wisma Putra here.
About 500 guests and colleagues, including RMAF operations commander Lt-Gen Datuk Bashir Abu Bakar, attended the dinner. So, too, did Thayala Kumar's parents K. Selvakumaran and A. Selvejothy, and Patricia's parents Yapp Chew Poh and Heng Hong Meng.
Recounting their courtship, Patricia said she had known Thayala Kumar for the last 13 years as they were coursemates in the RMAF.
"We first met during the second phase interview for the third batch of diploma-level cadets in Ipoh in April 1997. After being selected, we initially attended training together until we were separated to attend courses at different bases for a while.
"We were reunited during the fighter training in Butterworth in 2005 but split again a year later when I moved to Kuantan to pursue my MiG-29N training," she said.
But the couple kept in touch whenever their flying missions took them to either the Butterworth or Kuantan air bases. Love only blossomed in July 2008.
"The 'spark' ignited when Thayala Kumar expressed his feelings towards me and I was excited," said Patricia, who is from Sandakan, Sabah.
He proposed to her while the couple were flying to London on a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747-400.
"It was 4am on Sept 4, 2009. With a little help from the 'Best Cabin Crew in the World', she said yes," said Thayala Kumar, who hails from Seri Kembangan, Selangor.
The couple were formally engaged soon after.
Patricia, however, is temporarily 'grounded' from flying duties as she is expecting and no, she does not pull rank on her hubby despite being his superior officer.