Monday, July 22, 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 2006

Combing thru the Los Angeles Times

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Combing thru the Los Angeles Times One of the more interesting and let's face it — fun! — bits of research on the film is looking thru the Los Angeles Times database for articles about Pancho. So far we've surveyed hundreds, and there are many more keyword searches to be done. When you consider that Pancho at one time called herself "Florence Lowe" and "Florence Barnes" in addition to "Pancho Barnes", well, you get the idea! Pancho was featured in the Times as a young debutante, and her wedding to her first husband Rankin Barnes made the society pages. As one of California's premiere aviatrixes, she made the headlines repeatedly between 1928 and 1935. Here is one of the more interesting discoveries of late, a photo of Pancho after she'd just set a new speed record flying her Travelair Mystery Ship from San Jose Airport to Van Nuys, in 1:39. A remarkable feature of this flight is that she carried photographic plates snapped at the start of the Stanford-USC game at Palo Alto, and they were in Los Angeles being developed by the time the game ended!

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