Nigeria’s first-ever female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile is dead. She died Tuesday as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at Nigeria’s Air Force Base in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria.
Arotile’s untimely demise comes barely a year after she made history as the first combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force’s 55-year-old history following the completion of her training in South Africa.
A statement by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force said: “The Nigerian Air Force has lost the only female helicopter combat pilot.
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“It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today, July 14, 2020, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.”
Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force in September 2017 as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64.
Daramola described Arotile’s short stint with the service as “impactful”, contributing 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.
Nigeria’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said Arotile’s demise was “irreparable.”
“We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest.”
Arotile who hailed from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State broke the Air Force’s 55-year-old jinx alongside Kafayat Sanni who etched her name in history, becoming Nigeria’s first female fighter pilot.
Emerging as the overall best pilot at the Nigerian Air Force’s 401 training school in 2017, Sanni moved to the United States to train at the US Aviation Leadership program.
“It is a privilege for me to be winged as the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force,” Sanni would say after being decorated.