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Tuesday, October 26, 2021
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TOLULOPE OLUWATOYIN SARAH AROTILE: FIRST FEMALE COMBAT HELICOPTER PILOT IN THE NAF (13TH DECEMBER 1995 – 14TH JULY 2020)

Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile was the first-ever Female Combat Helicopter Pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.

Born on 13 December 1995 to the family of Mr and Mrs Akintunde Arotile in Kaduna, Flying Officer Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile, hails 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 22nd September 2012.

Flying Officer Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on 16th September 2017 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the Nigerian Defense Academy.

Flying Officer Arotile was winged as the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15th October 2019, after completing her flying training in South Africa. She holds a commercial pilot license and also 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 the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the induction ceremony at Eagle Square in Abuja on 6th February 2020.

Flying Officer Arotile died on 14th 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.

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.

Flying Officer Arotile joined the Nigerian Air Force out of passion for the job. In her words “I joined the military simply out of passion for it. Being military personnel has been a long-time ambition, the carriage and what it stands for are simply exceptional”.

She was buried on 23rd July 2020 at the Military Cemetery, Airport Road, Abuja.

The Nigerian Air Force revealed that no autopsy was carried out on her before she was buried, because the circumstances surrounding her death were clear, and there were witnesses who were present during the accident. The force said that her family wanted to move on quickly and did not demand an autopsy, noting that the family were comfortable with the force’s investigation.

Gone too soon like a candle in the wind.

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