Robert Agarobe reflects on Mal Smith’s life

Here is a reflective piece by Central Province Governor on the passing of late Malcolm Kela Smith.
I woke up to a very sad day to hear that we lost a dear friend, fellow aviator and a fellow Governor and MP.
I first got to see Malcolm Kela Smith in 1983 when I was doing my PETT training at Idubada Technical School to be an Aircraft Engineer. Mal and a few ex Vietnam pilots were flying for a helicopter company called AVDEV which stood for Aviation Development.
Some of the Great aviators with him were Horst Alman who went on to start Heli Niugini with a few friends and David Pidik who partnered with Sir Julius Chan and started Islands Helicopters.
As years went by I ended up starting my apprenticeship with a company called Aircair in Lae whereby we did maintenance on the Islands Helicopters fleet and Nation Air helicopters. I later moved to Hevilift in Mt Hagen and after a year moved to Bauganville to work for Heli Bougainville owned by Horst and BDC during the crisis.
After the crisis I moved back to Madang with my boss Horst and took over Heli Niugini from the other share holders then purchase the SIL base in Madang and started and built the new Heli Niugini base there. I left a few years late and moved back to Pom to finish my studies, I later went overseas and returned some years later, started Helifix Engineering and was engaged by Pacific Helicopters to work for them on a few contracts looking after their Bell 212s.
After building my facilities at Jackson’s Airport I applied to CASA for my AOC that was granted, l then leased my first helicopter a Russian Mill 17 off Pacific Helicopters to start Helifix operations, I later built my clientele plus my confidence to then buy my own helicopter, the rest is history.
My aviation life with Malcolm Kela Smith was a Love and Hate relationship as competitors and we had our moments however, we were best of friends who shared more then a few beers togather and assisted each other in times of need when it came to work.
We both had the out most respect for each other as brothers and Aviators.
Rest easy my Friend till we meet again. Pass my greetings to Ken Blain and have a beer on my behalf, I’ll be doing the same.
My Deepest condolences to the Malcolm family.
God bless,
Robert Agarobe

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