In December 2014, Abimbola Jayeola became Nigeria’s first female helicopter captain.
On Thursday, February 4, 2016, she added another remarkable achievement when she ditched a Bristow helicopter headed to Lagos from Port Harcourt into the Atlantic Ocean saving the lives of the 13 people aboard.
The chopper, with 11 people — mostly ExxonMobil staff — and two crew members on board, sent a distress message shortly after 10am, and crashed into the Atlantic 20 minutes later. About 10 minutes later, MV-DIJAMA, a new vessel owned by local Nigerian company L.A.T.C Marine Ltd, was alerted on the accident.
It arrived at the crash scene around 11.50am and started rescue operation, with all the passengers already wearing their life jackets. MV-DIJAMA launched its Fast Rescue Boat immediately and started receiving the casualties from the chopper’s LifeRafts. The accident happened 70 nautical miles off Lagos.
The crash was not entirely incident-free. Three survivors suffered “hypothermia” — a potentially dangerous drop in body temperature usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, in this case the Atlantic Ocean. Another survivor had a swollen arm, while the fifth had swollen shoulder.