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Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot dies



Nigerian Air Force’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, has died in a road accident.

It was learnt that Arotile sustained head injuries from the road accident which occurred at the NAF Base in Kaduna.

NAF in a press statement said the flight officer died on Tuesday.

The statement quoted the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, as describing her death as an “irreparable loss”.

Arotile, who hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, recently completed a programme at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa.

She died less than a year after she was decorated as the first female combatant helicopter pilot.

The statement read, “It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today (Tuesday), 14 July 2020, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.


“Until her death, ‪Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.‬More in Home

“During her short but impactful stay in the Service, the late Arotile contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of armed bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.

“We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest.”

The PUNCH reports that the deceased was one of the 13 pilots inducted at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday, August 15, 2019.

They were deployed in the North-East and other parts of the country for security operations.

Arotile graduated as the best flight student from the Nigerian Air Force in 2017.

File: Arotile, Buhari and other dignitaries during the induction of combat helicopters in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have taken to social media to mourn the flight officer’s death.

Reacting to her death on Twitter, @lekanpaul, said, “Her death came barely a year after she was winged as a combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force following the completion of her course in South Africa.”

Zahra Musa said Arotile’s death was a great loss for Nigeria.

“Oh! She was so young! That’s a great loss for her family and Nigeria! Her achievements at such a young age are remarkable indeed. Rest In Peace gallant one,” Musa said.

@1Vitalsplash tweeted, “So sad. May her soul RIP. Road traffic accident? Just like that? On NAF base? Seriously?”

“Sad end to a promising career!” @OAjayi added.

@abdul_dodomix said, “This is a great loss to the nation, I commiserate with @CAS_AMSadique

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