Tolulope Oluwatoyin Sarah Arotile (13 December 1995 – 14 July 2020) was the first-ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force. She contributed significantly to combat operations against insecurity in the northern states of Nigeria. Arotile died from a head injury she sustained from a freak accident at the Nigerian Air Force base in Kaduna state on 14 July 2020.
Born on 13 December 1995 to Akintunde Arotile and his wife in Kaduna State, she attended the Air Force Primary School, Kaduna, from 2000 to 2005, and the Air Force Secondary School, Kaduna, from 2006 to 2011, before she later gained admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, as a member of 64 Regular Course on 22 September 2012. Arotile was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a pilot officer on 16 September 2017 and held a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the Nigerian Defence Academy. She was winged as the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force on 15 October 2019 (together with the first ever female fighter pilot, Kafayat Sank) after completing her flying training in South Africa. Barely two years in her career, Tolulope had acquired 460 hours of flight in helicopter which was an outstanding performance for a combat pilot. She saw action against the Boko Haram terrorists, and President Muhammadu Buhari paid tribute to her skill and bravery.
She held a commercial pilot licence and also underwent tactical flying training on the Agusta 109. Power Attack Helicopter in Italy.
According to Nigerian Air Force spokesman Ibikunle Daramola, Arotile died on 14 July 2020, as a result of head injuries sustained in a road traffic accident at the Nigerian Air Force Base in Kaduna State, when she was inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force Secondary School classmate who was trying to greet her. The way the accident occurred, prompted a call for investigation from Nigerians.
She was buried on 23 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. The investigation was later transfered to the Nigeria Police Force on 24 July 2020.