The National, Monday June 24th, 2013
AN Ok Tedi Mine Ltd (OTML) charter aircraft carrying renowned businessman and Australian icon Dick Smith landed at the Tabubil Airport at 4.50pm last Thursday.
Smith, founder of Dick Smith Electrical, Dick Smith Foods and Australian Geographic, travelled around Papua New Guinea on a solo adventure to mark 30 years since his first solo helicopter flight around the world.
Unfortunately, Smith was unable to fly on his Bell Long Ranger VH-DIK helicopter because of bad weather since that morning.
But the aviator and philanthropist was still happy he was able to make it to Tabubil by plane.
OTML managing director and chief executive officer Nigel Parker was at the airport to welcome Smith before escorting him to the domestic terminal.
Waiting for Smith there were children from the Golgobip area of North Fly who greeted, welcomed and presented him with a traditional bilum.
Smith said his trip started three weeks ago at Daru, then to Milne Bay, Kavieng, Madang and Tabubil before he returned to Australia.
He said the purpose of his trip was to see PNG because he loved the country, its friendly people and the scenery.
“It’s really just a personal trip … it’s nothing to do with business at all,” he said.
“Yes, first time I have been here on the ground (in Tabubil); I have flown over it before but just from what I have seen already.
“I’m a bit embarrassed because I should have come in my own helicopter but the weather was quite bad and I was quite tired because I flew right up near Mt Wilhelm and I thought I will be conservative,” Smith said.
A small but excited crowd who gathered outside the domestic terminal got a glimpse of the Australian icon.
After greeting the crowd, Smith was driven away and given a brief tour of the mining township by Parker.
Smith flew back to Australia last Friday in his helicopter via Daru and Horn islands.