The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club (Video 2009) Poster

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9/10
Really worth the time to view this doc.
headfella30 April 2010
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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9/10
A neat little documentary....
MartinHafer11 January 2013
Maybe if Pancho had died while flying, she, too, would have been as famous as Amelia Earhart. All I know is that most folks, including me, have never heard of this remarkably unconventional woman. Florence Barnes was a very anachronistic lady. She had little interest in living a conventional life in the early part of the 20th century. She looked very unfeminine, smoked, cursed, wore men's clothing, worked for a while on a banana boat and was one of the first women to get a pilot's license! She clearly was a character--and an early feminist role model. There's MUCH, MUCH more to her story than all this and I suggest you see the film for yourself. It's never dull (since she was such a character) and the film is made in a very interesting fashion--very professionally made and a first-class production all the way. Well worth seeing.
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10/10
A wondrful movie and untold story
pdille21 November 2018
This is an incredible historical story - completely untold and eclipses the likes of Amelia Earhart. The filmmaker's were witty in their telling of the story. It was well researched with unbelievable old photos and clippings. Anyone who loves stories about the old American movies, the history of flying, incredible women trailblazing their time, tomboy stories or stories of the American west will simply adore this film. It's a gift to American history and a gem of a picture.
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