I spoke with Tolulope at 1pm but at 5pm, I was told she was in mortuary – Father of Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot
Akintunde Arotile, the father of the first Nigerian female combat pilot, Tolulope, in this interview with GBENGA ODOGUN, says Tolulope from childhood planned to be a pilot
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am Engineer Akintude Arotile. I worked with the Transmission Company of Nigeria. I retired last year as a power engineer.
You must have been devastated by the loss of your daughter.
(Cuts in) That is an understatement. From day one, she had not just been brilliant, but also wonderful. I was in Kaduna. She had all her education at the Air Force Base and the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. One day, when she was very small, she pointed to one small aircraft, parked on a field and said, “Dad, one day I am going to fly that aircraft” and I said amen. So from that day, she started working towards that. She got admission to the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna. She had a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. She became an Air force cadet. She was sent on several courses abroad and became a pilot. I just thank God that she was able to achieve her dreams as a baby before her death.
What was her position in the family?
She was number four.
She has been described as an award-winning pilot and in fact the first in the country to become a female combat pilot.
Right from day one, she had been very intelligent. Sometimes, I wondered what type of IQ she had. She also combined intelligence with hard work.
In fact, if you had been here when her bosses from Enugu came, you would think she was their daughter; the way they were eulogising her. They were proud of her achievements.