A documentary profile of Pasadena society girl turned adventurer and aviator, Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes. In the 1920's and 30's, Barnes was Hollywood's top woman stunt pilot. In the ...
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A documentary profile of Pasadena society girl turned adventurer and aviator, Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes. In the 1920's and 30's, Barnes was Hollywood's top woman stunt pilot. In the 1940's and 50's, she owned and operated the (in)famous "Happy Bottom Riding Club" - a fly-in resort located near Edwards Air Force Base. Written by
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.
OK so I saw the PBS version of this doc recently so I'm not sure if the DVD version is longer. And that is my only complaint otherwise I'd have given it a 10. For anybody with an aviation interest, this doc is a must view. Pancho was definitely a woman ahead of her time. One thing I do remember from Yeager's biography when Pancho came up in his book, was the unpleasant fact she had been dead for a considerable period of time before somebody found her body. A pretty ignoble end to this woman's amazing life. Nuf said, see this doc OK?
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