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)"
26 December 2007

Thoughts at Year's End

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Well, it's time we say goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008! But before the year goes into the slipstream, it's not a bad idea to look back... We've made terrific progress this year, wrapping production on interviews for the film, and beginning the editorial process. On Christmas Eve, a small group of us watched an 80-minute long "rough cut" of the film. The verdict? We've got a movie on our hands! Of course, we knew that was the case, but it's always gratifying to see something when it truly comes together for the first time.

2008 should be a big year for "Pancho Barnes!", as we move to finish the cut, cast a narrator (someone has to do the voice of Pancho!), and do our sound mix. It will be a while in the making -- after all, we need to chop about 25 minutes from our rough cut so that it can be aired -- but we're making rapid progress. Stay tuned to the Production Journal for updates as they happen.

There are many, many thank yous that go out to so many people, that it's hard to organize a list. Our crew worked so hard on making our movie a reality...and that includes cinematographers Clay Westervelt, Chad Wilson and Harris Done, sound man Stu Sperling, make-up artist Christina Fabiani, our ace assistant Pam Dotson, graphics experts Jin Yee and Jeff Dietrich, and many others. Monique Zavistovski has worked tirelessly in the editing room, assisted by Tiffany Scherban. From Amanda Pope and I, thank you to one and all...

We look forward to meeting many of our loyal readers and supporters in 2008, when "Pancho" gets airborne. Thanks to you all for your interest in our project and your financial and moral support!

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