One of the pioneer pilots in Nigerian aviation, Captain Rufus Orimoloye, has died.
The retired pilot who once flew Nigerian leaders like former Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and former President Nnamdi Azikiwe on international missions, passed away at age 89.
His death was announced by his family in a statement released on Saturday.
The statement read, “It is with a heavy heart and gratitude to God for a lasting legacy that we announce the passing of retired Captain Rufus Orimoloye, a trailblazer of Nigerian aviation, at the age of 89.
“Orimoloye trained at the Air Service Training Institute, Hambrook, near Southampton in the United Kingdom from 1954-1956, becoming one of the first four Nigerian pilots.
“In 1962, he successfully completed further training for the Senior Commercial Pilot Licence, and along with Robert Hayes of Benin City, was promoted to become one of the first two Nigerian commercial airline captains qualified to fly the McDonnell-Douglas DC3 passenger aircraft.
“He had his secondary school education at the acclaimed Government College, Ibadan in the immediate post-World War II years together with famous contemporaries such as Wole Soyinka, Christopher Kolade, and Hope Harriman.
“After retirement, he was appointed the Odofin Ayedun, a paramount chieftain by his Highness, the Deji of Akure. He was awarded a national honour, Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by the late President Umaru Yar’Ardua in 2009.”
The deceased pilot was survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.