Wednesday, April 24, 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)"
03 April 2007

Special Thanks to FilmTools

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Stan McClain has earned a tremendous reputation (and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Operating Cameramen) as an aerial cinematographer. His credits include TV shows and commercials, industrials, and feature films from Rambo to Passenger 57, Dropzone to The Doors, and more (see: this link for more on Stan's career ). Stan has always been passionate about flight and the history of aerial photography. In fact he wrote an article about the birth of the motion picture cameramen which traces all the way back to Pancho's grandfather, Thaddeus Lowe. You can read it at this link here

Stan is an enthusiastic supporter of our project. He contacted us and offered the use of an interview with aviatrix Bobbi Trout, which he shot a number of years ago. Now, he and his wife Kim have made a generous donation to KOCE-TV in support of the film, through their company FilmTools. We're grateful for the gift, for as we enter the post-production phase of the project, financial support is critical.

Incidentally, FilmTools is a terrific company that supplies all sorts of expendables and camera equipment support for the motion picture industry. Based in Burbank, it's well worth a visit if you're in need of tape stock, grip and lighting equipment, or heck even a matte box...they've got it all there. Check it out at:


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