We should celebrate explorers like Benedict Allen
We are so glad to hear that explorer Benedict Allen - a sometime speaker for Clive Conway Productions - is alive and well following his dramatic rescue from Papua New Guinea.
Benedict went missing during a solo expedition to contact the remote Yaifo tribe - one of the few people on earth who have had little or no contact with outsiders. He was retracing an expedition of that he first undertook back in the 1980s.
Described by friends as ‘old school’ in his attitude to adventure, he had already drawn criticism for his refusal to take a satellite phone or tracking equipment.
The alarm was raised when he failed to turn up for a planned return flight to Hong Kong. Eventually Benedict was spotted at a remote airstrip and rescued by helicopter. He was feverish and unwell and had been cared for by tribes people before making it to the airstrip. A statement from his agent said: “We can confirm that Benedict Allen has been evacuated by helicopter and is now safe…
“He is reported as feverish with suspected malaria. Benedict looks forward to being reunited with his family and friends but will need some time to get back to full health. He would like to send thanks for all the kind messages he has received.”
Inevitably perhaps there has been a media backlash. The pilot who airlifted him out has been quoted on news sites as saying that the explorer didn’t actually need to be rescued. That he was perfectly safe.
Others have even suggested that the whole thing was a publicity stunt. This has been vehemently denied by his agent.
My feeling is that the critics just don’t get it. We used to treasure and admire our explorers and adventurers. No more it seems. They just get a forensic going over in a bid to catch them out.
But this wasn’t a put up job it was a genuine anthropological expedition and, while his methods are a little unorthodox, Benedict Allen should be celebrated.
He’s clearly an admirer of the great Victorian and Edwardian explorers and has many adventures to his credit. Long may it continue. Just be pleased that he his back in one piece.
Ironically, when he set out, Benedict told friends that if he got lost they shouldn’t try and find him. In one of his last interactions with technology before boarding a plane at Heathrow, he paraphrased the words of doomed Antarctic explorer Captain Oates and tweeted: “I may be some time (don't try to rescue me, please - where I'm going in PNG you won't ever find me you know…)”