Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot Arotile is dead

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The death of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile has been announced by the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).

Spokesman to the NAF Ibikunle Daramola disclosed that Arotile died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria.

Arotile, according to Daramola, died 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.

The NAF spokesman described Arotile’s career as one of “impactful service” who 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 statement reads:  “The Nigerian Airforce has lost the only female helicopter combat pilot in the It is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died today, 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.”

“During her short but impactful stay in the Service, late Arotile, who hails 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 the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late ‪Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss. We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest.”

Arotile hails from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.

She was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64 and later became first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the service in Nigeria.

Flying Officer Kafayat Sank and Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile – who broke the service’ 55-year-old jinx, were said to be Regular Combatant Officers while the Air Warrant Officer, Grace Garuba is said to be the first female Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) to be promoted to the highest rank in the Non-Commissioned Officers’ cadre since the Force was established on April 18, 1964.