by Charles Gulick
The Lost Colony
Title: LOST COLONY/MQI
En Route Coordinates:
Aircraft: N14952, E20803
Tower: N14924.085, E20818.230
The rough rectangle of land in front of you is Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and you're positioned for a long final to Runway 16 at Dare County Airport, Manteo, North Carolina (airport code MQI).
Before you unpause to fly the approach, however, take a hard look at the near tip of the island. See if you see any sign of life. Because in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh started a colony down there, consisting of 117 settlers led by a mysterious man named John White. He may have been the artist John White, painter of invaluable historic watercolors of southeastern Indian life and of native plants and animals. Or he may have been some other John White. At any rate, because the sup-plies of these early settlers were in danger of running out, John White made a voyage to England for more provisions. But when he returned three years later there was absolutely no trace of the colonists, no indication whatsoever that they had ever been there. Even the fort they had built had vanished. The only sign of any life was the word "Croatoan" (the name of a local Indian tribe) carved on a tree. But had the Croatoan committed some hostile act, it seems unlikely that any settler would have had the time to carve Croatoan on a tree. At any rate, to this day no one knows what became of The Lost Colony, commemorated today as the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The fort has been rebuilt, and a drama, The Lost Colony, is enacted for tourists at Waterside Theater during the summer months.
Dare County Airport resembles an asterisk from the air. Elevation is 13 feet (and a ground observer is alongside the threshold end of Runway 16).