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TOLULOPE AROTILE: Nigeria’s First Female Flying Officer Flies

Tolulope Arotile

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), in a recent press statement, explained what led to the death of the country’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile.

The Air Force on Tuesday confirmed Arotile’s death, claiming she died in an accident within the NAF base in Kaduna. But in a detailed release by the NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the late young officer was killed by a reversing car.

“Flying Officer Arotile died on 14 July 2020 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’s statement read in part.

Apart from being the first female combat helicopter pilot, there are many other things about the late pilot Tolulope Arotile:

  • Born in 1995, Tolulope was a native of Iffe area in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
  • She attended the Air Force Primary and Secondary Schools in Kaduna.
  • She joined the Nigerian Air Force 401 Flying training school Kaduna on the 22nd of December 2012.
  • In 2017, she graduated from the Nigerian Airforce 401 training school Kaduna and became an officer in the force on the 16th of September 2017.
  • She was selected to train in South Africa following her performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna.
  • As of 15 October 2019, she has acquired 460 hours of flight within 14 months in helicopter.
  • Arotile was decorated the first female fighter helicopter pilot the Nigerian Airforce has had in 55 years. She was decorated by the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs (Dame) Pauline Tallen and the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar in October, 2019.
  • Barely a year, she was winged as Nigeria’s first ever female combat helicopter pilot, Arotile dies in a road accident in Kaduna at the age of 24. During her short but impactful stay in the Service, 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.

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