Nigerian Air Force (NAF)’s first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, has died in a road accident.

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NAF in a press statement said the flight officer died on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old was said to have been hit by a car driven by a former classmate who wanted to greet her.

The unnamed ex-classmate was reportedly reversing the car when it hit Arotile who fell and hit her head on the tarmac.

She subsequently died while receiving treatment at the hospital where she was taken to.

The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Air Com. Ibikunle Daramola revealed this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.

It stated, “Flying Officer Arotile died on July 14, 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.

“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.”

“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 February 6, 2020,” the statement noted.

NAF first female pilot, Tolulope Arotile, with President Buhari.
NAF first female pilot, Tolulope Arotile, with President Buhari.

The President in a statement on Wednesday signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, extolled the virtues of the first female combat helicopter pilot in the history of the Nigerian Air Force.

The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari received with deep pain the passing of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, condoling with the family on loss of such a promising officer, whose short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security.

“The President salutes Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory will be indelible, and her efforts remembered.

“President Buhari commiserates with the Nigerian Air Force, airmen, airwomen and all friends of the deceased, recalling her deft skills in manoeuvring combat helicopters, which he had physically witnessed with pride.

“The President sympathises with government and people of Kogi State on the loss.

“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will receive the soul of the departed, and comfort the family she left behind.”

Born on December 13, 1995, to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna, 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 September 22, 2012.

Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on September 16, 2017, and held a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy.

NAF first female pilot, Tolulope Arotile, dies in car accident
NAF first female pilot, Tolulope Arotile.

She was winged as the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on October 15, 2019, after completing her training in South Africa.

She possessed a commercial pilot license and also underwent tactical flying training on the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter in Italy.

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while condoling with her family and Nigeria, said Arotile would be missed.