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

Who is Pancho Barnes ?

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Pancho Barnes


Pancho Barnes has been the subject of several books, including Tom Wolfe's bestseller The Right Stuff. She was portrayed in the film made from the book, and her life served as inspiration for the television movie "Pancho Barnes" featuring Valerie Bertinelli. In the past, attempts were made to make a documentary about Pancho, but with only mixed results. Unfortunately, few documents and other materials related to Pancho seemed to have survived the devastating fire at the Happy Bottom Riding Club in 1953, and therefore much of the context of Pancho's life seemed to be irretrievably lost.

While conducting research for an article about Edwards Air Force Base, Producer Nick Spark met Dr. Lou D'Elia. By happenstance, Dr. D'Elia had recently acquired a large archive of "lost" materials relating to Pancho, including rare photos, personal letters, a rough draft of an auto-biography, voice recordings, even Barnes' student pilot license.

Nick Spark recruited filmmaker and friend Amanda Pope to take a look at the Pancho materials. After some discussion they agreed that it represented a truly significant window in Pancho's extraordinary life, and that they had to make a film about her.

Thus the Pancho Barnes documentary project came into being.Through careful research by the production team, new artifacts and important materials have surfaced to supplement the project, including never-before-seen film footage and even FBI records related to Pancho's legal case against the Air Force.

In February of 2005, KOCE-TV PBS of Orange County agreed to assist the production and, thanks to a matching / challenge grant made available by a California non-profit, funding now exists to produce this project. Your tax-deductible donation can help make "Pancho Barnes!" a reality. See the "How to Help" page for more information.


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