Thursday, November 30, 2023

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)"
11 June 2009

Pancho Barnstorms Tucson !

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June is turning out to be a very busy month for “Pancho”.  This past weekend, we had our big world premiere in New York City as part of the NewFest Film Festival.   It was an exciting event, made all the more special by the fact that the sophisticated Manhattan crowd – who didn’t have much of a clue who Pancho was or what she accomplished – absolutely loved her and the movie!  Next Sunday, June 21, we’ll be bowing in front of an aviation crowd in Centennial, Colorado.  That will be when we present the film as part of the inaugural “Celebration of Women’s Aviation”.  See for more information about how to obtain tickets to this wonderful event, and learn about the special guests who will be there.

Now we have another fund raising screening to crow about, coming up on Saturday June 27th in Tucson, Arizona.  The venue is The Loft movie theater, and the event is hosted byCongresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Horseback Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Yes, you've heard correctly, a member of the United States Congress has endorsed “Pancho”.  It’s not the first time she’s gotten a boost of this type – if you’ve read earlier entries in the Production Journal then you know Pancho ran for L.A. County Supervisor back in the day, and received endorsements from the likes of actor Ramon Novarro and fellow aviatrix Amelia Earhart.   But this time Pancho’s actually getting notice from someone with real political chops.  

Congresswoman Giffords is a friend, supporter, and a fan of the project going back several years.  Her enthusiasm likely springs from the fact that, like Pancho, she’s a dynamo who has risen to the top through diligent effort, a woman who never quits.  She's also a horsewoman (that's her in the saddle at right) and a person who knows a lot about ranching.  But there’s also a more important connection.  Like Barnes, Giffords has always had an enormous interest in aviation, and is the Chair of the Science Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.  She is also, get this, married to astronaut Mark Kelly and was the first sitting member of Congress to have a spouse in orbit. 

Simply put, Pancho would have loved Gabrielle Giffords, and so we’re proud to be showing the film to her friends and supporters.  But you don’t have to be a Democrat to come see the film -- everyone is invited!

Tickets for the show will be sold through the website  
(N.B.: as of this writing, the link is not yet active but stay tuned). 

Hope to see you there!

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