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)"
23 June 2009

Pancho Invited to Arlington Fly In !

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This just in, The Legend of Pancho Barnes will be screened at the Arlington, Washington Fly In.  This prestigious aviation event is one of the nation's biggest and best, featuring an air show and ground displays that are second to none.  During the evening hours, visitors and campers alike enjoy the "Runway Theater", and that's where Pancho will be screening on Friday, July 10th.  Things should get started after 9:30 p.m. or thereabouts.  Come one, come all, and bring your umbrella or at least a hat -- this is the Pacific NW after all.  Make sure to bring a friend or two -- or three!  For more information and directions, visit the official website here.  

This coming Saturday, June 27, in case you missed it, the film will be screening in Tucson, Arizona (see previous issue of the Production Journal).  And with that said, it's time to recap the amazing "Celebration of Women's Aviation" event that we Women pilots in air race classicattended this past weekend in Denver.  Hosted by aviation artist and impresario Joe Jones, the Celebration featured a dazzling array of women aviators including Emily Howell Warner, the first woman pilot to be hired by a major U.S. airline.  Many of the competitors in the all women's Air Race Classic were in attendance, including author / pilot Gene Nora Jessen.  Gene Nora, who is the author of the definitive history of the 1929 women's air race, Powder Puff Derby of 1929, gave a stirring speech connecting the '29 race with the '09 model.  It was one of many amazing moments.  (Incidentally, not all of the attention went to the ladies.  Several original Tuskeegee Airmen were in attendance, and they all dazzled with their modesty.  Their personal stories of accomplishment against the odds, and unparalleled bravery in combat were something to hear first hand.)  

 Photo: Emily Howell Warner (l) and Gene Nora Jessen (second from l) are honored at the Celebration of Women's Aviation.  Photo courtesy Paul Gordon.

 While I sit here typing away, it strikes my mind that the Air Race Classic officially gets underway tomorrow the 23rd.  So as I write this I imagine that the pilots are going over their check lists, looking over their maps, and trying to clear their minds and get one last full night of sleep before getting underway.  Oh to be in their shoes -- it's going to be quite an exciting race!  Not only will there be a terrific competition, but the comraderie of the participants is absolutely real.  I honestly wish the race was being covered by ESPN or one of the Janine Conklin Amanda Pope Nick Sparkother networks -- Oxygen where are you when we need you?  By definition it's going to be an exciting race, and the personalities, interests, and spirit of these competitors is without equal.  Every single one of them whom we spoke with, had a terrific story about how they ended up in the cockpit, and a few had touching stories about what inspired them to enter the race.  Check out the official website for more information here, or if you're interested in a closer-in view, follow the race from "Team Wild Mama's" perspective in their blog here.  May all the fliers have safe journeys, and as Marvel Crosson says a bit of historic newsreel footage from 1929 that we used in our film, "May your landings all be low and slow."

Special thanks for an amazing day at a mile high, are owed to Joe Jones, International Jet Aviation, the Centennial Airport and the dozens of volunteers who made the event a reality.  Thanks also to our friend Russ McDaniel, who came all the way from Indiana just to be there.  Yes it was a long way, but I know Russ came away feeling like we all did at the end of the day-- it was worth the trip!

 Photo: Race fan Janine Conklin joins director Amanda Pope, Pancho Barnes, and Nick Spark at the Celebration of Women's Aviation.


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