Spokesperson to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF), Ibikunle Daramola announced the death of one of the force’s most-recognised combat pilots, Tolulope Arotile. The 23-year-old reportedly died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria.
Arotile was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64 and later became the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the service in Nigeria.
According to reports from The Guardian, she died barely a year after she was winged as a combat helicopter pilot in the Air Force, following the completion of her training course in South Africa. “The NAF spokesman described Arotile’s career as one of “impactful service” who 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,” the newspaper wrote.
In her statement, Daramola also extended condolences on the pilot’s death from “the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss.”
NAF LOSES FLYING OFFICER TOLULOPE AROTILE IN ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT IN KADUNA— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) July 14, 2020
1/4. It is with great sorrow that the @NigAirForce regretfully announces the unfortunate demise of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died on 14 July 2020, pic.twitter.com/huh0Ce5Tsl
Following the announcement of Arotile’s death, there has been an outpour of grief and praise on social media, many describing her life as “short, but impactful.”