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Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot buried in Abuja

The remains of late Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), have been buried with full military honours at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, led the deluge of tributes at the burial.

Her body was lowered into the grave at exactly 11.05 am.

Flying Officer Arotile died last week Monday evening when a friend’s vehicle reversing to greet her at NAF Base, Kaduna, ran over her and she died from head hemorrhage.

The death has elicited outpourings of national collective mourning with condolences and overwhelming show of supports to her family and the NAF.

President Muhammadu Buhari expressed “deep pain” at the death, regretting the “loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.”

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 gaining admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna as a member of 64 Regular Course on 22 September 2012 and graduated with Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.

Flying Officer Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on 16 September 2017 and was winged as the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15 October 2019, after completing her flying training in South Africa.

To show her excellence, while on Basic Helicopter Course in South Africa, because of her excellent performance, she was selected to undergo a more advanced flying course on the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter in Italy before returning to finish the Basic Course along with her other colleagues in South Africa.

She held 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 President Muhammadu Buhari during the induction ceremony at Eagle Square in Abuja on 6 February 2020.

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