Saturday, July 13, 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)"
26 August 2008

A Big Challenge for "Pancho"!

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Here's some BIG NEWS that we're very excited to share!

KOCE-TV, Orange County Calif.'s PBS station, is pleased to announce that The Legend of Pancho Barnes is the recipient of a $35,000 challenge grant from The Lincy Foundation. The grant, which will be administered through the KOCE-TV Foundation, is in support of the completion of a documentary film that details the life and times of Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes. One of the most famous female pilots of the 1920's and 30's, Pancho grew up in San Marino, California. She flew in the first women's intercontinental air derby, broke Amelia Earhart's air speed record, and became the first female stunt pilot in Hollywood. In the 40's and 50's, she gained notoriety as the owner of a guest ranch located near Edwards Air Force Base called "The Happy Bottom Riding Club." Before it was destroyed by fire in 1953, Pancho's ranch was the hang-out for some of the greatest pilots in the world, including Charles "Chuck" Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier.

The Legend of Pancho Barnes is directed by U.S.C. professor Amanda Pope, and produced and written by Nick T. Spark. It features interviews with Pancho's biographers Lauren Kessler and Barbara Schultz, and many of her surviving friends including Yeager, test pilots Bob Hoover and Bob Cardenas, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Tax deductible donations in support of the challenge grant can be made to: KOCE-TV Foundation, 17011 Beach Blvd., Suite 1550, Huntington Beach, CA, 92657. Gifts should indicate they are in support of the "Pancho" documentary.

KOCE-TV is the nation's sixth most-watched PBS station with an estimated 5.8 million viewers monthly (according to the Nielsen Station Index). The winner of hundreds of awards including Emmys and Community Service Awards, KOCE continues to be a vital community resource and connector for Southern California.

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