Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The Emmy™Award-Winning Documentary Film

"Broadcast" version now airing on most public television stations.

"Uncensored" version now on DVD and in film festivals.

Synopsis: A charismatic figure featured in Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff, Florence "Pancho" Barnes was one of the most important women in 20th Century aviation. A tough and fearless aviatrix, Pancho was a rival of Amelia Earhart's who made a name for herself as Hollywood's first female stunt pilot. Just before WWII she opened a ranch near Edwards Air Force Base that became a famous -- some would say notorious -- hangout for test pilots and movie stars. Known as the "Happy Bottom Riding Club", it became the epicenter of the aviation world during the early jet age. Chuck Yeager celebrated breaking the sound barrier there in 1947, and Howard Hughes and Jimmy Doolittle caroused in the bar. The Club's destruction by fire in 1953 is seen by many to mark the end of a Golden Era in post-WWII aviation. In the same fashion Pancho herself has become something of a legend, a fascinating yet enigmatic icon whose swagger is often celebrated, but whose story has been largely unknown. Until now.

A documentary film produced and written by Nick Spark and directed by Amanda Pope. Featuring interviews with test pilots Bob Cardenas, Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and biographers Barbara Schultz and Lauren Kessler. Narrated by Tom Skerritt with Kathy Bates as the voice of Pancho Barnes.

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Women in Aviation
"Read Nick Spark's article about Pancho
from Women in Aviation magazine (.pdf)"
31 July 2010

Santa Monica August 4

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The Legend of Pancho Barnes will be shSantaMonicaown at the Santa Monica Public Library on Wednesday, August 4, 2010, at 7:00 p.m., in the Main Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium.  The library is located at 601 Santa Monica Blvd.  Admission is free but first come, first served and seating is limited.  Visit this link for more information.

Having this screening in Santa Monica, in August, is our way of paying tribute to the brave women who flew in the first "Powder Puff Derby" Air Race, which took place in August of 1929.  Twenty women competed in the race, including Pancho, which ran from Santa Monica's Clover Field to the National Air Race venue at Cleveland.  The race was won by Louise Thaden.  Pancho did not finish, for reasons best explained in our documentary.


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The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club ©2008-2010 Nick Spark Productions, LLC.