One of the three pilots who ejected themselves from the two ill-fated F-7Ni aircraft, Bello Baba Ari, has died.
Mr Ari, a squadron leader, suffered from a major trauma and died later at the hospital, while his two colleagues survived the crash.
Security sources said he was in the Nigerian Air Force’s Tiger Squad flying the F-7Ni, country’s lead combat aircraft.
The accident occured when two jets are taking part in the rehearsals for the aerial display to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
The air mishap necessitated the three pilots to eject from their aircraft, which subsequently crashed in the general area of Katamkpe Hill.
PRNigeria gathered that Baba-Ari was a fearless and courageous pilot who took delight in combat operations against Boko Haram terrorists.
He was trained to engage in air-to-air combat while in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Officers and men of the Nigerian Airforce are mourning his death being one of the finest fighter pilots that were actively engaged in counter-insurgency operations in North-East and other places.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, on behalf of officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF, commiserates with the family of the deceased officer.
Mr Abubakar, an air marshal, has also instituted an air crash investigation to determine the remote and immediate causes of the incident.
Tributes pour in for Baba Ari
Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Tweets: “They had indeed been programmed for training on a higher performance aircraft that the NAF is about to acquire. All 3 were able to eject from the aircraft before the crash. Regrettably, however, one of them later died due complications from injuries sustained from the ejection.
“The officer, Squadron Leader Bello Baba-Ari, has been buried in accordance with Islamic rites. We pray the Almighty grants his soul eternal rest.”
The immediate-past Director of Information of NAF, AVM OA Adesanya tweets: “A huge loss indeed. I knew the late pilot personally; he was a fine, young and humble gentleman who contributed immensely to the counterinsurgency operations in the Northeast and the fight against other forms of criminality in Nigeria. May his supreme sacrifice not be in vain.”
DOPRI, Air Comdr Ibikunle Daramola tweets: “The body of Squadron Leader Bello Mohamed Baba-Ari, the @NigAirForce pilot who died earlier today after ejecting from an F-7Ni aircraft, has been laid to rest in accordance with Islamic rites.
“Bello Baba-Ari was a gentleman officer, distinguished pilot, dedicated patriot and irrefutable hero of the war on terror. He will be sorely missed by @CAS_AMSadique and all members of @NigAirForce family. May the Almighty comfort his family and grant his soul eternal rest.”