Thursday, May 23, 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)"
17 May 2008

Pancho Receives Women in Film Grant !

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Historical documentaries by their very nature involving loads of archival research and dozens of interviews, and as a result they are time-consuming and expensive to make. All of the monies for our production have come from donations from scores of individuals, granting organizations, and foundations. Each step of our project has come with significant hurdles. Raising the money to keep moving forward, is only one of the challenges we've faced.

Fortunately, hard work does have its rewards. Recently, Amanda Pope and I were informed that the film has won the Women in Film Finishing Fund grant. The film is one of six chosen nationally. This prestigious $5K grant will help cover some pressing costs, and get us one step closer to done.

The most exciting news about the WIF Grant is something we can't make public just yet! Let's just say, we called someone about the Grant, and something exciting has happened as a result.


We're still in search of more finishing funds. If you're interested in helping sponsor the film, or want to make a gift, feel free to contact us or use the "Donate" button on the website. All contributions to the film are tax deductible, and sponsorship opportunities are available. Plus, even a small gift may qualify you to appear in the credits of the finished film.

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