Wednesday, June 19, 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)"
16 December 2009

Putting 2009 Into Perspective & Events in 2010

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2009 has been a wonderful year for The Legend of Pancho Barnes.  Well, six months of it anyway! PanchoXmas2 We premiered the film at the NewFest Film Festival in Manhattan in June, and since that time we've done over a dozen events including the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and screenings at NASA, the Arlington Air Show, the Planes of Fame Air Museum, the Celebration of Women in Aviation, the Flying M Ranch and of course, our special Los Angeles premiere screening at the Aero Theater.  Those of you who made it to that event definitely had a night to remember.

2010 looks like it will also be about as exciting as Pancho in her flying boots!  We'll kick off the year with a screening to benefit the KOCE-TV Foundation on January 9th in Mission Viejo, Ca (you can buy tickets on this website by clicking on the "Screenings" button).  We'll follow that with a Pasadena event on February 25th to benefit KOCE-TV and two wonderful local history organizations, Heritage Square and the Pasadena Museum of History (click on "Screenings" button).  There are several other events in California and beyond that we'll announce as the details fall into place.  And if you know of a venue that wants to have a screening — an air show, a museum, or another organization — contact us.  Want to help sponsor one of our screenings?  We're always looking for help!

All of this barnstorming should (knock on wood) lead up to a television broadcast sometime in mid-2010.  We do not yet have the details, but our show has been submitted into the public television review process and we hope to have an air date announcement in the very near future.  In fact, we're sort of hoping Santa puts it under our tree!

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