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)"
10 September 2008

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Roughly three years ago, when the Pancho documentary was just underway, I crossed paths with Karen Lacy, an assistant curator at the San Diego Air and Space Museum (SDASM). Karen, who was in the process of putting together an exhibit honoring women aviators, was extremely enthusiastic about the film. "Let me know when you're further along," she said, "and I'll see what I can do to help." Well, true to her word, Karen (with the support of SDASM President Jim Kidrick and his staff) has arranged a special fund raising screening for us at the Museum.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 18th, with doors opening at 6:30.

There will be a brief presentation about the documentary hosted by Amanda Pope and myself, and a Q&A session at the end. The suggested donation at the door is $12, and I am told that there will be free popcorn as a special bonus!

If you are planning to attend, you do not have to RSVP. If you have any questions or want to make 100% certain you get a seat, you can contact Karen via email, klacy (at) sdasm.org

By the way, for those of you who have never visited the SDASM, it's a real treat and one of the highlights of San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park. The museum's aircraft collection includes a Ford Trimotor, a Spirit of St. Louis replica, a Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, a Bee Gee, and many, many more. Many of Pancho's friends and acquaintances are highlighted in this museum, from Jimmy Doolittle to Amelia Earhart to Chuck Yeager.

Please help us spread the word, and we look forward to seeing you there!

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