Akintunde Arotile, father of Tolulope, the late first female combat helicopter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force, has narrated how he spoke to her a few hours before she died.
Speaking with NAN on Wednesday, Arotile said being devastated “is an understatement,” recalling how the late Tolulope aspired to have an air service career as a child.
The late NAF officer died in a freak accident at the Kaduna air force base on Tuesday.
A former classmate of hers was said to have unknowingly knocked her down during which she sustained head injuries.
Arotile recalled how he had told his daughter to “return home on time” when they spoke hours to her demise, not knowing she was never going to be home again.
Sympathisers around the parents of the deceased pilot
“Just yesterday, at about 1 pm, I called her because she just came back from an operation against the bandits in Katsina (and) they gave them one week to rest,” he said.
“So, she was sleeping and told me she was in bed resting. She said she will later go out to make some photocopies and I told her not to be long and to return home on time because she was staying with my first daughter in Kaduna.
“Around 5:30 pm, somebody called me and asked if I had called her today and I said ‘yes’. Then the person told me to call her which I did, but no response, so I called her colleagues, and they were all crying on phone.
“I asked what happened, they were just crying. So, I called one of her bosses who told me that she is in the mortuary and I said, ‘this is somebody I spoke with four hours ago and by 5pm she was in the mortuary’.”
He also recalled how his late daughter dreamt about flying an aircraft, saying “she had not just been brilliant but wonderful.”
“One day when she was very small, she pointed to one small aircraft parked on the field and said, ‘dad, one day, I am going to fly that aircraft’ and I said ‘Amen’,” he recalled, adding that she started working towards actualising the dream from that day.
“Right from day one, she had been very very intelligent. Sometimes, I wonder what type of IQ she had. She also combined intelligence with hard-work. I just thank God that she was able to achieve her dreams as a baby before her death,” Arotile said.
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