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November 7-9, 2014

The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club

Amanda Pope
Nick Spark
64 minutes

A charismatic figure immortalized 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 pilot, Pancho flew on Amelia Earhart's wingtip, performed as a barnstormer throughout California, and made a name for herself as Hollywood's first female stunt pilot in the 1920's and 30's. 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 is largely unknown. Until now.

Amanda has an extensive 20-year background in writing, producing, directing and editing documentary, dramatic, and advocacy programs. She is a tenured Associate Professor in production at the University of Southern California's acclaimed School of Cinema- Television, where she teaches graduate documentary directing and documentary film development. Amanda recently produced, directed and wrote “Faces of Change” for the Washington, D.C. based Eurasia Foundation, and directed a series of interviews for the Screen Actors' Guild Foundation. Her previous experience includes directing and writing the film “Jackson Pollock Portrait” for the PBS series ‘Strokes of Genius’; producing, directing, writing and editing “Houseman Directs Lear” for PBS and co-producing the 90-minute drama “Orville and Wilbur,” about the Wright Brothers. She is concurrently directing two films – “Art Rescuers of Nukus” on an endangered world class collection of 50,000 artworks secreted away in the desert of Uzbekistan; and “The Legend of Pancho Barnes!” Amanda received her B.A. from Wellesley College.

A filmmaker and writer with a keen interest in history, Nick is a former contributing editor to Wings, a bi-monthly aviation history magazine with national circulation. His articles have appeared in Naval History, the Annals of Improbable Research, the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings and Naval History. He has appeared on NHK, National Public Radio, and other media outlets domestic and abroad concerning his historical research. In 2005 the American Aviation Historical Society presented him with its Author’s Award for his article “Secrets of the Spirit.” He has produced or directed a number of award-winning documentary and industrial films, including a project for the Department of Defense. Nick’s documentary film, Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines aired on Discovery Channel Europe and in Canada. He holds a master’s degree in Film Production from the University of Southern California, and was a twotime winner of the Student Emmy Award in non-fiction filmmaking and winner of the Cine Golden Eagle.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
Block 2a: 10:45am - 12:35pm