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)"
17 December 2007

Update -- The Editing Continues !

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It's been several months since we wrapped production on the film, and started editing (see 8.06 Journal entry). Well, we're still working in the cutting room, and will be for a while longer. That is, incidentally, one of the reasons the Production Journal is a bit sporadic -- I'm spending a great deal of time working with our editor, Monique, to complete our "rough cut".

We've made a great deal of progress. Over Thanksgiving, we even screened a portion of the film for some friends, and asked for critical comments. It was a lot of fun, but one thing it underscored, is that we have a ways to go before "Pancho" will be a wrap!

For those of you who have never visited a documentary cutting room, let's just say that editing a film like this one takes time and patience. With over twenty on-camera interviews, thousands of documents and photographs, and motion picture footage to be gone thru and assessed, it's a big puzzle. Fortunately the "big picture" looks very good, and we're well on our way...stay tuned.

You can make a difference. Tell your friends about what we're doing, and send them to our website. And please, consider making a tax deductible donation to our project care of KOCE-TV, PBS of Orange County, California. Every donation makes a difference in terms of our ability to deliver a first-rate product and that's what we want -- a terrific tribute to Pancho Barnes, and the golden era of flight that she and her friends represent.

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