Nigeria's first female combat helicopter pilot dies

Nigerian Air Force first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile reported dead after sustaining a head injury in a road accident
Emeh Joy

Tolulope Arotile, Nigerian Air Force's first female combat helicopter pilot, has been reported dead through a road accident.

She reportedly sustained head injuries from a road accident which occurred at the NAF Base in Kaduna. NAF released a press statement saying that the young officer died on Tuesday.

In the statement, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar was quoted to have described her death as an "irreparable loss". Arotile hails from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State and recently completed a programme at the Starlite International Training Academy, South Africa.

She died not later than a year after she was decorated the first female combat helicopter pilot. The statement read thus:

"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 as commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of the 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 the almighty God grants her soul eternal rest".

Arotile was reportedly one of the 13 pilots inducted at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja on Tuesday, August 15, 2019. The inductees were then deployed to the North-East and other parts of the country for security operations.

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

Nigerians have also taken to social media to mourn the death of the young flight officer. The reactions to the news of her death have been a said one.

@lekanpaul, a twitter user tweeted, "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".

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

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