Friday, July 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)"
13 November 2008

"Pancho" at Planes of Fame

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Can't make it to the event in Laguna Beach on Monday, the 17th? Don't despair. There are still another couple of opportunities to come hear about the film, and get a preview. For starters, on November 21st, Nick Spark will be speaking at an event hosted by the Red Barons at the Alpine Village in Torrance. That's located at 833 W. Torrance Blvd. at the 210 Freeway. Things should start around 11:30 a.m., and you can get lunch while you're there. Please note, if you plan to attend, you must send an RSVP email to the leader of the group, Larry Warner. His email is: snpd(at)

Another exciting event takes place beginning at 5:30 on Thursday, December 11th, when the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino hosts a fundraising screening and reception to benefit the completion of the film. Director Amanda Pope will join me at the event, which is being organized by Andrea Eldridge and hosted by Karen Hinton. You can be one of only 45 people who get to attend this screening -- and wow will it be fun given the venue: Planes of Fame has one of the best collections of historic aircraft outside of the Smithsonian Institution.

If you want to attend, you'll have to RSVP right away. You can do that by sending an email to Andrea at: andrea.eldridge(at)

The suggested donation per seat is $50-$100, with checks made payable to the KOCE-TV Foundation. All gifts are tax deductible.

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