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Women in Aviation
"Read Nick Spark's article about Pancho
from Women in Aviation magazine (.pdf)"
12 October 2008


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Bondi Abraham
As a young girl, Bondi Abraham grew up on a ranch located nearby Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club. Pancho Barnes made a big impression on little Bondi, and taught her many life lessons. She vividly remembers the day that Pancho's ranch caught on fire back in 1953.

Dr. Buzz Aldrin
A scientist, astronaut, author, consultant, and former head of the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, Dr. Aldrin was a friend of Pancho's who attended her 70th birthday party. Buzz likes to tell people, that his first flight as a boy was in a Lockheed Vega -- the same type of plane that Pancho flew as a test pilot back in 1929!

Brig. General Robert Cardenas
One of the best multi-engine pilots of his generation, Bob Cardenas flew the mother ship B-29 for the Bell X-1 sound barrier busting project. He later served as chief test pilot for the (in)famous YB-49 Flying Wing. A card-carrying member of the Happy Bottom Riding Club, Bob has terrific memories of Pancho.

Dr. Louis F. D'Elia
A licensed neuropsychologist and an assistant clinical professor at UCLA's School of Medicine, Dr. Lou D'Elia is also an avid collector of the Hollywood glamour photography of George Hurrell. His passion led him to acquire the estate of Pancho Barnes, who was not only a close friend of Hurrell, but actually jump-started his career. D'Elia is the caretaker of Pancho's archives, and serves on the board of the Flight Test Historical Foundation.

Patrice Demory
Patrice Demory was a young teen when she boarded with Pancho Barnes. During their time together, Patrice helped transcribe Barnes' autobiography, and watched Pancho wage a long legal battle with her husband Mack. Patrice's interest in Pancho extends into the present, as she routinely portrays Pancho's grandmother Leontine Lowe at Civil War re-enactments. Her husband Steve takes on the role of, who else, Pancho's grandfather Thaddeus.

Bob Hoover
One of the great aerial showmen of the 20th Century, Bob Hoover's distinguished career included stints as a test pilot, movie stunt pilot, and air show precision acrobatic flier. He flew as backup pilot to Chuck Yeager during the X-1 program and has fond memories of Pancho Barnes.

Hon. Shirley Hufstedler
A pioneering female attorney who began her career in the 1950's, Shirley Hufstedler befriended Pancho Barnes during her legal fight with the U.S. Air Force. Shirley went on to have a distinguished career, first as a judge in the L.A. County Superior Court, and then as Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed her as Secretary of Education.

Seth Hufstedler
The Senior Of Counsel for the prestigious law firm of Morrison and Foerster, Seth Hufstelder met Pancho via his wife Shirley, back in 1953. Seth worked diligently for Pancho and helped her achieve a victory in her land condemnation lawsuit against the United States Government.

Gene Nora Jessen
A woman with an enormous passion for aviation, Gene Nora earned her wings back in 1958. Just three years later, she was accepted into a NASA-sponsored program for women astronauts, and it looked like Gene Nora might fly in space. That never happened, but Gene Nora remained committed to aviation, becoming president of the Ninety-Nines, and paying tribute to the flying women of Pancho's era in her book, The Powder Puff Derby of 1929.

Lauren Kessler
An award-winning author whose essays often show up in the New York Times Magazine, Lauren Kessler chronicled the life and times of Pancho Barnes in her book, The Happy Bottom Riding Club. Some of her other books include Stubborn Twig, Clever Girl (a profile of Cold War spy Elizabeth Bentley) and the recently published Dancing with Rose. She lives in Oregon.

Tony King
Pancho Barnes hired Tony King as a ranch hand when he was still a teenager, and practically raised him. He later became foreman of her Rancho Oro Verde, milked her dairy cows, and wrangled her horses. He is a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

"Dazzling" Dallas Morley
The one-time head hostess of the Happy Bottom Riding Club, Dallas helped Pancho select girls to entertain guests. An entertainer her whole life, Dallas worked, as she says, as the "bitch of the Red Dog Saloon" in Pioneertown, California.

Michael Patris
A Pasadena resident with an enormous interest in history, Michael Patris is the founder of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society. He is also the author of Mount Lowe Railway, part of Arcadia Publishing's rail series. In his role with the Preservation Society, Patris serves as archivist for the largest collection of memorabilia related to Pancho's grandfather, Thaddeus Lowe. You'll find him presenting lectures about Lowe and the railway on an occasional basis in California and beyond.

Dr. Raymond Puffer
Formerly on the staff of the History Office at Edwards Air Force Base, Raymond Puffer is an expert in all things related to the "Golden Era of Flight Test" -- including Pancho Barnes.

Barbara Rowland
Following the death of her husband in an airplane crash, Barbara Rowland became listless and withdrawn. Her savior turned out to be Pancho Barnes, who forced her to re-engage life. Their friendship produced many fun and memorable moments, one of the most incredible being an introduction to millionaire recluse Howard Hughes.

Barbara Schultz
A pilot and author, Barbara Schultz was friends with Pancho Barnes' son Billy, and ended up becoming intrigued with the story of the tough, strong aviatrix. After conducting interviews with surviving friends, she wrote Pancho: The Biography of Florence Lowe Barnes. She's currently hard at work on a new book.

Irma "Babe" Story
A Women's Air Service Pilot (WASP) during WWII, Babe Story's career in aviation started at Pancho Barnes' flight school in the 1940's. A longtime admirer of Barnes, Babe considered her both a friend and mentor.

Brig. General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager
The man who broke the sound barrier in 1947, Chuck Yeager's career as a test pilot is without parallel. Yeager's time on the X-1 project is closely associated with Pancho Barnes and her club; Yeager cracked his ribs on Pancho's corral gate just prior to his supersonic flight.

  "We have more fun in a week...than most weenies have in a lifetime!" -- Florence "Pancho" Barnes

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