Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot dies

by Muizat Hameed

The news of the death of Nigerian Air Force’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, has been reported.

Tolulope Arotile, who was recently inducted as a combat helicopter pilot in 2019, was reported to have sustained severe head injuries from a road accident which eventually claimed her life.

The accident occurred around the Nigerian Airforce(NAF) Base in Kaduna on Tuesday July 14, 2020.

In a press statement release by the NAF, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, described Arotile’s death as an “irreparable loss.”

“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,” the statement reads.

It continued that, “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.”

“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.” it concluded.

Several social media users have gone online to express their grief regarding the death of Arotile who graduated as the best flight student from the Nigerian Air Force in 2017.

A tweeter user stated that, “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.”

Another added, “Sad end to a promising career!”

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

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