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)"
17 October 2009

Screenings in November, December Announced

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November and December are shaping up as busy months for Pancho!  First, on Wednesday, November 11,PalmSprings2 we'll be barnstorming into Palm Springs for a special screening at the fabulous Palm Springs Air Museum.  We'll literally be screening the film among warbirds, as the hangars at PSAM hold dozens of WWII era fighter and bomber aircraft.  But it's not as if it's entirely a radial and piston air force — there's also a T-33, F-4, F-16 and even an F-18 in the collection.  The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free to members, $5 for non-members.  To RSVP, please call 760-778-6262.  Show up early to guarantee a good seat!

DrydenPancho at NASA / Dryden December 4th
Speaking of screenings, we've just been invited to present the film at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Friday, December 4th.  Dryden, where legendary research aircraft and lifting bodies like the D-558-II, SR-71, X-31, X-38 were tested and flown, is an amazingly appropriate venue for a screening.  It remains NASA's premier site for aeronautical research and operates some of the most advanced aircraft in the world including the Space Shuttle. So now that I've whet your appetite, I am sorry to say that the screening is going to be closed to the public, but if you live or work at Edwards AFB or know someone who does (and can get you past the main gates) you can join us.  It will be a truly special event ... showing the film among some of the best pilots and ground crew in the world.  Wouldn't Pancho Barnes be proud?

Screening at Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum  December 6th
We'll also be presenting the film on Sunday, December 6th at the Essanay Silent Film Museum in Niles, California. This historic venue celebrates the silent film era, and the early talkies.  Since Pancho Barnes was a stunt pilot, and a friend of many Hollywood stars from the "Golden Era", she'll fit right in!  If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, this should present an excellent opportunity to see the film.  Details of this screening have just been finalized! It will take place on Sunday, December 6 at 12:30 PM.  Suggested donation $10 general admission, $8 museum members.  Our film will be shown as a double feature with what else? — Howard Hughes' "Hell's Angels".


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