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Air Force’s first female combat helicopter pilot, dies in road mishap

Nigeria’s first female combat pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, is dead. She died on Tuesday owing to head injuries she sustained in a road accident in Kaduna.

He death was announced by the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in a statement on Wednesday. It said she died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road accident at its base in Kaduna.

Arotile had successfully completed her pilot training courses at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa.

According to NAF, she was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) RC 64.

The statement added, “Until her death, Fg Offr Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in Sept 2017 as a member of @HQ_NDA RC 64, was the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.

“During her short but impactful stay in the Service, 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.”

She came into national prominence on October 15, 2019, when she was commissioned as the first combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force following the completion of her course in South Africa.

A statement by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, described her death as an “irreparable loss”.

It said, “It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.

“She died today, July 14 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.

“During her short but impactful stay in the service, the late Arotile, who hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, 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.

“The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late Arotile over this irreparable loss.

“We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest,” NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said in the statement.

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