The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club


Mary D. Fisher Theatre Wed, Jul 24 4:00 PM
Film Info
Event Type:Benefit Screening
Documentary Feature
Release Year:2009
Run Time:65 minutes
Production Country:United States
Original Language:English
Cast/Crew Info
Director:Amanda Pope
Producer(s):Nick Spark
Screenwriter:Nick Spark


The Sedona International Film Festival is proud to partner with the Sedona Red Rockettes — the local chapter of the Ninety-Nines — to present the Northern Arizona encore of “The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club” on Wednesday, July 24 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

This special screening of the Emmy Award-winning film — held on the birthday of Amelia Earhart — will include a post-film discussion led by the Sedona Red Rockettes. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the organization.

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.

“The Legend of Pancho Barnes” features interviews with test pilots Bob Cardenas, Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The film is narrated by Tom Skerritt with Kathy Bates as the voice of Pancho Barnes.

The Ninety-Nines and Sedona Red Rockettes
The Ninety-Nines was founded on November 2, 1929, at Curtiss Field, Valley Stream, Long Island, New York. All licensed 117 female pilots at the time were invited to assemble for mutual support, the advancement of aviation, and to create a central office to keep files on women aviators. In 1931, Amelia Earhart was elected the first President, and the group selected the name "Ninety-Nines" to represent the 99 charter members. Today there are over 6,700 members from all over the world. The local chapter, the Sedona Red Rockettes, was established in 1989 and is still going strong today. Their mission is to support women in aviation, provide flight scholarships and share their passion for flight.