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)"
22 July 2009

Legend of Pancho Barnes Premieres at Aero Theater

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The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club will make its Los Angeles premiere at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica on Thursday, September 10th.  This special screening will serve as a fund raiser for the production and will feature participants, crew members and many special guests.  The public is invited to attend.  Tickets may be purchased from this website by clicking on the "Premiere" button at the top right. 
This screening represents the culmination of over four years of hard work by the production team, consisting of writer / producer Nick T. Spark and director Amanda Pope.  The film was produced in affiliation with local PBS station KOCE-TV, and was made possible entirely through donations and grants.

Born in Pasadena, Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes (1901-1975) was the first woman stunt pilot in Hollywood, a rival of Amelia Earhart's, and a friend of the famous and the fast.  August will represent the 80th anniversary of her participation in the 1929 Powder Puff Derby all-women's air race between Santa Monica and Cleveland, Ohio.

The Aero Theater is one of two movie theaters run by the American Cinematheque, a non-profit organization helping to preserve and celebrate motion picture history.

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