Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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)"
06 December 2006

Louise Thaden's Friendship with Pancho

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Pat Thaden Webb, the daughter of Louise Thaden (the aviatrix who won the 1929 Powder Puff Derby) recently wrote to me about her mother's friendship with Pancho. It's quite poignant so I thought it best to share... Here's what she wrote: "Yes, Mom and Pancho were friends, and Mom thought the world of her. I remember one time when Mom and I were driving somewhere and the conversation came up about some of Mom's early flying friends that had met such tragic deaths, which made a lasting impact on my mother that she maybe could have done more than she had to change things. I asked her how in the world she could have been friends with Pancho when Pancho was so wild and Mom was just the opposite. Mom replied with great feeling that the crazy things Pancho did was just for effect, and that she was one of the most good hearted persons she had ever known, and had done more to help people all during her life than most people knew...and for me not to forget that. Pancho was at the top of the list of the people Mom admired, respected and loved."

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