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)"
07 November 2008

U.S. Balloon Corps Takes Flight This Weekend

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U.S. Balloon Corps Takes Flight This Weekend

This weekend, November 8th and 9th, there will be a huge Civil War re-enactment at Moorpark, California (for details, visit www.forttejon.org/moorpark). Attending the event will be Patrice and Steve Demory. As a pregnant teen in the mid-1960's, Patrice took refuge at Pancho's home in Cantil. For more on that story, read the wonderful article written about Patrice in the O.C. Register click here

Patrice and Steve won't just be attending the Civil War event, though! They'll be participating in it. You see, although they were friends for only a short time, Pancho made an enormous impression upon Patrice. Demory sought out all the books and magazine articles about Pancho that she could.

Patrice's research gave her newfound respect for the bawdy, tough old woman she'd known in the 1960's. She developed a special fascination for Pancho's grandfather, Thaddeus Lowe, and his wife Leontine. Patrice's passion proved contagious, and soon her husband Steve was inspired to get into the act. The practical result of all this enthusiasm is something to behold -- since Patrice and Steve re-enact Leontine and Thaddeus at Civil War events around California and the USA!

Come to Fort Tejon this weekend and you can meet them -- and their alter egos. It's like getting four people for the price of two. Imagine the excitement of being able to ask "the most shot at man in the Civil War" about his adventures, and in the next breath you can ask Steve about his trip to see Pancho's old house near Jawbone Canyon. Then, you can ask Leontine to tell you the fascinating story of how she managed to travel around the world as a single woman in her youth, or about her world-famous collection of Native American crafts (now owned by Stanford University). Then, switch gears and ask Patrice to tell the story, about Pancho and the motorcyclist. It's priceless and one you won't want to miss!

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