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Celebrated pilot, Captain Rufus Orimoloye, dies at 89

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A renowned former pilot who is also the Odofin Ayedun of Akure, Ondo State, Captain Rufus Adetunji Orimoloye, is dead. He was aged 86.

Captain Orimoloye, a pioneering trailblazer of Nigerian aviation sector, trained at the Air Service Training Institute, Hambrook, near Southampton in the United Kingdom from 1954 to 1956, becoming one of the first four Nigerian pilots.

In 1962, he successfully completed further training for the Senior Commercial Pilot License and along with Robert Hayes of Benin was promoted to became one of the first two Nigerian Commercial Airline Captains qualified to fly the McDonnel-Douglas DC3 passenger aircraft.

He had his secondary school education at the Government College, Ibadan, in the immediate post World War II years together with his contemporaries such as Wole Soyinka, Christopher Kolade and Hope Harriman.

During his 26-year career in Nigerian aviation, at the dawn of Nigeria’s independence, he flew Nigeria’s new leaders including Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and President Nnamdi Azikiwe on international missions.

After retirement, he was appointed the Odofin Ayedun, a paramount chieftain by the Deji of Akure, Oba .

He was awarded the national honour of the Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) by President Umaru Yar’Ardua in 2009.

He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

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