Thursday, May 23, 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)"
16 September 2009

Travel Air Reunion at Flabob Oct. 2nd

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The Legend of Pancho Barnes will be screeningTravelAir2 at the West Coast Travel Air Reunion at Flabob Airport in Riverside on Friday, October 2.  This unique fly in event is made possible by the Travel Air Restorers Association and our friends at Flabob, notably John Lyon and Tom Wathen.  For those of you who have never been out to Flabob, it is quite an intriguing place.  The airport was founded in 1925 as Riverside's municipal airport, and retains quite a bit of its historic character.

Pancho probably flew in to Flabob on occasion, and if she did she most likely did so in one of her Travel Air biplanes.  She owned at least two, including a "Speedwing" (so-called because its reinforced wings allowed high speed maneuvering) previously owned by director Howard Hawks.  That was the airplane Pancho used during the recording of sound effects for the movie "Hell's Angels", since its big engine made a heck of a lot of noise.  Of course, Pancho's favorite Travel Air aircraft was her Model R "Mystery Ship".  At the time she owned it, it was the fastest aircraft in the world.  The plane was so impressive that Union Oil put Pancho under contract just as soon as they could, and paid her to fly it up and down the West Coast.

Want to join us at Flabob?  Well, don't wait.  There will be only a limited number of seats available.  RSVP by calling Kathy at (951) 683-2309 x 104, or email her: kathy(at sign)

Directions and more information about Flabob are located at this link.


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