The funeral ceremony of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat helicopter pilot of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) was buried on Thursday at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja
While announcing the death of the first Nigeria’s female female combat helicopter pilot, Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF’s Director of Public Relations in a statement said the Flying Officer died on July 14, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at NAF Base Kaduna.
“Until her death, Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.
“During her short but impactful stay in the Service, late Arotile, who hails from Iffe in Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, contributed significantly to the efforts to rid the North Central States of bandits and other criminal elements by flying several combat missions under Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State.
” The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss.
In his tribute to her, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that Arotile’s short stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in the area of peace and security.
The president saluted Arotile’s bravery in the field to protect the country from onslaught of bandits and terrorists, assuring that her memory would be indelible, and her efforts remembered.
Buhari also commiserated 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.
Speaking on her short, but eventual career trajectory during a condolence visit to his office, the Chief of Air Staff, said NAF would never forget Arotile not only because she was the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Service, but also because of her legacy as a very intelligent, highly committed and extremely patriotic officer who excelled in virtually every endeavour.
Abubakar recalled how, while on basic helicopter course in South Africa, Arotile selected, because of her excellent performance, 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.
The CAS said she was commitment to excellence on the job.
” This was what gave us confidence to assign her to introduce the Agusta 109 Power Attack Helicopter to the President, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the induction ceremony at the Eagle Square in Abuja on Feb.6, which she did excellently,” he said
Abubakar said Arotile had left her mark on the sands of time which, he said, proved that when it comes to displaying excellence and adding value to the society, age or gender should not be barriers.
He said that her contributions through combat missions conducted along with her colleagues in the fight against armed banditry and other criminal activities in the country would also never be forgotten.
He assured that the NAF, in honour of her memory as well as those who had paid the supreme price before her, would continue to work assiduously to ensure success in the fight against terrorism, banditry and other security threats for the overall peace and prosperity of a united Nigeria.