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

Pancho Wins "San Luis Obispo" Audience Award

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The Legend of Pancho Barnes has won the Audience Award at the 16th Annual San Luis Obispo Film Festival. This prestigious award is voted on by actual real live, ordinary people who saw the film at the festival, so it's especially wonderful to be recognized.  Plus, this is a back-to-back win, since the film recently won the audience award at  the Big Muddy Film Festival.  Way to go Pancho!  To see all the festival winners click here.

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Pancho Barnes at Sun N Fun Airshow

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Sun 'N Fun, one of the nation's largest airshows, will host a special screening of The Legend of Pancho Barnes on Saturday, April 17th as part of an "Aviation in Hollywood" event.  Sun 'N Fun hosts more than 500 commercial exhibitors and tens of thousands of visitors who attend a daily airshow, and special events like a balloon race and author presentations.  In addition to the screening, Nick Spark will make remarks about the film at noon on the 17th at the Florida Air Museum.  For more information visit the event website here.

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Pancho Wins "Big Muddy" Audience Award

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Bigmuddy2This just in: The Legend of Pancho Barnes just won the Audience Award at the Big Muddy Film Festival 2010.  This festival, held at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, is the oldest student film festival in the United States.   The audience award is given by the festival attendees, through the casting of ballots.  So we're really honored!   To see a full list of winning films click here.

Partial List of Participating Stations

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APT

Orange County PBS affiliate KOCE-TV will premiere The Legend of Pancho Barnes on April 15th at 8 p.m., with additional screenings on April 20th at 9 p.m. and April 25th at 11 p.m.  KOCE-TV, the nation's sixth-most-watched public television station, is proud to have supported the creation of this dynamic documentary, about one of the most important women in 20th Century aviation.

After the premiere on KOCE-TV, PBS of Orange County, California, The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club will be broadcast on participating American Public Television stations.  Major air dates should be April (after the 15th) and May of 2010, but the show will continue to air until 2013 so you should be able to catch it!  Don't see your local station on this list?  Well, it doesn't mean the show won't air in your area, just that we're unable to confirm it at this time.  Check your local listings for details, or contact your local station and ask them to air Pancho.

We will be periodically revising the list below, so stay tuned for more information.


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Legend of Pancho Barnes to be Broadcast Nationwide

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE KOCEAPT

The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club will be broadcast by American Public Television (APT) this Spring.  Over 100 participating stations will show the documentary, constituting over 70% of all American households.  APT is a prime source of programming for the nation's public television stations for over four decades.

Prior to distribution on American Public Television, Orange County PBS affiliate KOCE-TV will premiere the documentary on April 15th at 8 p.m., with additional screenings on April 20th at 9 p.m. and April 25th at 11 p.m.  KOCE-TV, the nation's sixth-most-watched public television station, is proud to have supported the creation of this dynamic documentary, about one of the most important women in 20th Century aviation.

For the production team of producer Nick Spark and director Amanda Pope, national broadcast of the documentary fulfills a goal set when the project began over five years ago. 

A list of stations will be posted on this website in weeks to come.  Check your local listings in late April and May for exact time and date information.  Want to make sure your local public television station shows Pancho?  Call your station and tell them you want them to air it.

A Pancho Connection Brings Tears

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Every now and then something really noteworthy, and unexpected, happens as a result of the film.  It could be like the other day, when Amanda Pope and I went to present the film at Northrop Grumman's facility in El Segundo, California.  Much to our delight, we discovered that Northrop Grumman had invited a group of high school students from the Da Vinci School to attend the event.  Not only that, but NG honcho Scott Sommer had challenged the students to produce short films inspired by Pancho's life story.  The results were terrific, and we were able to turn our presentation into a learning experience not only about Pancho, but about the process of filmmaking.  What a satisfying turn of events!

A few months ago I had another experience worth sharing.  It all started with a photo of Pancho in the collection of the Pancho PestControlBarnes Trust Estate that shows Pancho sitting on the wing of a crop duster at her airport.  The plane is marked A/V Pest Control, or Antelope Valley Pest Control, and it caught my eye because it was a funny-looking shot of Pancho.  I mentally filed it away for the future, not realizing that one day it would make a big difference to someone I'd never even met.

So "a funny thing happened".   Late last year, I noticed that there were some 16mm films for sale on eBay that were marked "crop dusting TBM, Lancaster".  Not knowing anything about the films, but knowing that Pancho's airport sometimes hosted crop dusters, I decided to bid on them.  I was able to acquire them cheaply enough, and when they arrived at my house I took a look.  There was no sign of Pancho or her ranch anywhere in the films but there were crop dusters, including a war surplus TBM Avenger modified as an aerial sprayer.   Although similar to the plane in the photo of Pancho, the planes in the film were not marked A/V Pest Control but "Cisco".  On the off chance I did a search for this company on the internet and I turned up an interesting website put up by a fellow named Hunter Betts.  The website was a memorial to his beloved father James Lynden Betts, an accomplished pilot who flew dangerous, covert missions in Laos during the Vietnam War.  Prior to doing "low and slow" flying over the jungle, Betts was a crop duster pilot who owned a company known as Cisco.  Interesting.

pestcontrol2So I got in touch with Hunter Betts, told him what I had, and asked him if he knew who Pancho Barnes was.  He wrote back immediately that Cisco was originally called "A/V Pest Control".  Not only did his father know Pancho, but he was a good friend who sprayed her alfalfa fields and drank at her bar on a frequent basis.  He took her up in a helicopter he'd built from a kit, which was a little scary not just because it was a kit, but because he was a self-taught rotary pilot.   "You have no idea how floored I am right now!" Hunter emailed.  "My dad passed away in 1996 and had a huge amount of 16MM film of his aviation career but lost it all in a storage fire while we were living in Laos. I would be so excited to see this other film you have!!!!"

Long story short, we got the films transferred and Hunter soon had a DVD in his hands.  For the first time in a decade, he would see his father in motion.  "Well Nick," he wrote to me in an email after getting them in the mail, " I have just been absolutely FLOORED!! What a great gift you have given me and my kids. I can't thank you enough Nick. The shots of him flying face on are a one in a lifetime prize. I feel like crying." 

He wasn't the only one!

You can see the movies on-line and learn more about James Lyndon Betts, at Hunter's website.

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