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How Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot died in road traffic accident

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is in mourning with the death of its first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.

Late Arotile, an amazon in the air due to her dexterity on the pilot’s deck, died on July 14, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.

Sources said that Flying Officer Arotile died around the Mammy Market at the NAF Base, Kaduna.

According to the source, the late first female combat pilot went to Mammy Market this on Sunday evening. On her way back to Single Pilots (SP) Quarters (Qtrs), she saw some of her civilian classmates driving towards the Mammy Market. When they saw her, the vehicle driver started reversing back. Unfortunately, he lost control of the reversing and knocked  her down. She sustained a severe head injury with massive hemorrhage and died.”

NAF Spokesperson, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said in a statement on Tuesday night in Abuja that the late female combat pilot flew “several combat missions.”

According to the statement, “it is with great sorrow that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died on July 14, 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 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 of 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.”

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