FG, Air Force, Mourn Death of First Female Chopper Pilot, Arotile

By Alexander Johnson Adejoh and Precious Ukeje

To her credit she flew the heavy NAF Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter through the hostile sky of Sambisa, Niger and the deadly Zamfara forests severally, in attempts to make her country, a secure and peaceful place to live.

The late Female Helicopter Pilot, Tolulope Arotile

Fides however gathered that Officer Arotile who was 24 years of age, died on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in a freak car accident.

According to a statement signed by the Nigeria Airforce, Arotile died from head injuries sustained in a road accident at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) base in Kaduna State.

‘Arotile was hit by a car driven by a former classmate who wanted to say hello to her,’ the Air Force said in the statement.

Fides also gathered that the unnamed ex-classmate was reportedly reversing the car when it hit Arotile who fell and hit her head on the tarmac. She died at the hospital where she was rushed to for treatment.

The statement read in part, ‘Until her death, Flight Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September of 2017 as a member of the Nigeria Defence Academy RC 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.’

For his part, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, said he was heartbroken when on receiving the news. He recalled that Tolulope, who was winged in October 2019, as the first female combat helicopter pilot, was one of their shining young stars.

‘She was a very intelligent, disciplined, confident and courageous young officer who added value wherever she served. As a squadron pilot in Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State, she flew her quota of anti-banditry combat missions to ensure a safer, more secure Nigeria,’ Sadique Abubakar said.

He disclosed recalling how he met her at the Minna Airport while on an operational visit after one of such missions, notig that he saw her eagerness to contribute towards the restoration of lasting peace to the affected areas in the country.


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