- “Gone too soon like a candle in the wind,” says Nigerian Air Force
- Buhari in “deep pain”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said that he received with “deep pain,” the passing of Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot.
In a tweet by Presidential Spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, President Buhari condoled with the family on the “loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.”
In the same vein, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, “on behalf officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the Service, consoles with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss. May her gentle soul continue to Rest In Peace.”
In a statement by Nigerian Air Force Spokesperson, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, confirmed Global Upfront Newspapers (GUN) report that Flying Officer Arotile died on 14 July at the age of 24 “when she was inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force Secondary School classmate while trying to greet her.”
Air Commodore Daramola said that before “her untimely death,” Flying Officer Arotile “made significant and outstanding contributions to the war against terrorism, armed banditry and other forms of criminality in the Country, flying several combat missions.”
He noted that the late Flying Officer joined the Nigerian Air Force out of passion for the job.
In her words: “I joined the military simply out of passion for it. Being a military personnel has been a long time ambition, the carriage and what it stands for are simply exceptional.”
Daramola said of the late Flying Officer: Gone too soon like a candle in the wind. She will be greatly missed by the entire Nigerian Air Force family.”
Born on 13 December 1995 to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna, Flying Officer Arotile hailed from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
She attended Air Force Primary School, Kaduna from 2000 – 2005 and Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna from 2006 – 2011 before she later gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as a member of 64 Regular Course on 22 September 2012.
Flying Officer Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on 16 September 2017 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Flying Officer Arotile was winged as the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15 October 2019, after completing her flying training in South Africa.
She holds a commercial pilot license and underwent tactical flying training on the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter in Italy.
Incidentally, she introduced the newly acquired Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the induction ceremony at Eagle Square in Abuja on 6 February 2020.