The Nigerian Airforce has announced the death of Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, who died on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in a car crash.
Arotile died from head injuries sustained in a road accident at the Nigeria Airforce (NAF) base in the northwestern state of Kaduna.
She was 24 years of age.
Punch reports that Arotile was hit by a car driven by a former classmate who wanted to say hello to her.
The unnamed ex-classmate was reportedly reversing the car when it hit Arotile who fell and hit her head on the tarmac.
She died at the hospital where she was rushed to for treatment.
“Until her death, Flight Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September of 2017 as a member of the Nigeria Defence Academy RC 64, was the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the service,” the Airforce said in a statement.
“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.”
Chief of Air Staff Sadique Abubakar said: "I was heart broken when I received the sad news. Tolulope, who was winged in October 2019, as the first female combat helicopter pilot, was one of our shining young stars.
"She was a very intelligent, disciplined, confident and courageous young officer who added value wherever she served. As a squadron pilot in Operation GAMA AIKI in Minna, Niger State, she flew her quota of anti-banditry combat missions to ensure a safer, more secured Nigeria.
"I recall meeting her at the Minna Airport, while on operational visit, after one of such missions and seeing her eagerness to contribute towards the restoration of lasting peace to the affected areas. Her death is a huge loss to the Nigeria Airforce family and indeed the entire nation.
“On behalf of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, we commiserate with the family of late Flying Officer Arotile over this irreparable loss. We pray that the Almighty God grants her soul eternal rest."