Nigerian Air Force has immortalised Tolulope Arotile, its first female combat helicopter pilot, who died in a freak road accident on 14 July, triggering a national anguish.
According to the spokesman Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the newly renovated and remodeled Pilots’ Crew ‘Room’ at the 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) Port Harcourt has been renamed after the 24 year-old promising officer.
Before her death Arotile was involved in operations against banditry and criminal activities in the country.
Daramola said the honour was for her invaluable contributions.
The Pilots’ Crew Room houses an Operations briefing room, computer room/library, pilots’ life-support room and lounge as well as a kitchen, dining room, changing room for pilots on standby and several rest rooms.
The facility was provided to ensure a conducive environment which would enable pilots to more effectively plan and execute assigned missions.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated on Tuesday that immortalizing late Flying Officer Arotile was done, not only to honour her memory but also to further inspire young girls in Nigeria to study, work hard and pursue their dreams and legitimate aspirations with pride and honour.
“It is gratifying to note that, since late Tolulope’s demise, many young Nigerian girls have indicated their interest to join the NAF. Besides, no fewer than 12 other female officers, who have undoubtedly been motivated by her inspirational life and the unprecedented and exemplary contributions by other female and male pilots, are currently undergoing flying training, both within and outside the Country, to become NAF pilots”, the CAS said.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted that immortalizing late Flying Officer Arotile also addressed another area of the NAF’s policy thrust which is the commitment to assure personnel that their sacrifices would never be in vain.
According to him, the policy has been sustained through the immortalization of personnel who paid the supreme price in service to the Nation.
“The objective has always been to acknowledge their contributions towards securing our Country, while making sure that they and their sacrifices remain forever fresh in our minds and indeed in the minds of Nigerians”, he added.
The CAS, who expressed excitement to see some of her colleagues who were at the commissioning to celebrate her memory, noted that late Flying Officer Arotile lives on in the hearts of those coming after her.
He encouraged more young girls to aspire for career opportunities in the NAF as he said “there is no limit to what they can achieve”.
Air Marshal Abubakar also commissioned a Block of 18 x two-bedroom flats for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) as well as a water project.
Present at the ceremony were Branch Chiefs and Directors from the NAF Headquarters as well as the General Officer Commanding 6 Division Nigerian Army and other senior military officers.
One of the key feature of the event was the presence of some NAF’s female pilots.
Among them was Flight Lieutenant Blessing Liman, the first female to be winged as a pilot in the NAF.
There were also Flying Officers Genevieve Nwaogwugwu, Olubunmi Ijelu, Kafayat Sanni, first fixed-wing fighter pilot in the NAF, and Chinelo Nwokoye, NAF’s second-ever combat helicopter pilot.