The Legend of Pancho Barnes

Watch The Legend of Pancho Barnes

"Award-winning documentary about one of the most colorful women pilots of the early 20th century"
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 1 hr 4 min
  • 8.6  (70)

The Legend of Pancho Barnes is a biographical documentary film that tells the story of Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes, a legendary aviator and the founder of the famous Happy Bottom Riding Club in the Mojave Desert. The film features archival footage, interviews with her friends, family, and former colleagues, as well as reenactments of some of Barnes's most memorable moments.

The film follows Barnes's life from her childhood, through her adolescence and young adulthood, up to her days as a trailblazing aviator in the 1920s and 30s. We learn about her rocky relationship with her father, her early attempts to break into Hollywood as an actress, and her eventual discovery of her true passion: flying.

As a young woman, Barnes quickly made a name for herself as a skilled and daring pilot, setting a number of speed and altitude records and becoming one of the most famous aviators of her time. She also became known for her spirited personality and unconventional lifestyle, which included heavy drinking, smoking, and a number of love affairs.

Eventually, Barnes settled in the Mojave Desert and opened the Happy Bottom Riding Club, which quickly became a hub for pilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world. The club was a place where visitors could hang out, drink, dance, and swap stories about their flying adventures.

Throughout the film, we hear from various people who knew Barnes, including her son, her former lovers, and some of the pilots and Hollywood actors who frequented her club. They describe Barnes as a larger-than-life figure who was tough, irreverent, and fiercely independent.

We also hear from some of the women who followed in Barnes's footsteps, including fellow aviator Betty Skelton and astronaut Sally Ride, who credit Barnes with paving the way for female pilots and helping to break down gender barriers in aviation.

The film also touches on some of Barnes's darker moments, including her struggles with addiction and depression, as well as her involvement in a fatal plane crash that killed one of her close friends.

Throughout the film, we see reenactments of some of Barnes's most memorable moments, including her record-breaking flights, her fights with Hollywood executives, and her wild parties at the Happy Bottom Riding Club. These scenes are interspersed with interviews and archival footage, creating a rich and engaging portrait of an American icon.

Overall, The Legend of Pancho Barnes is a fascinating and inspiring look at one of aviation's most colorful characters. The film celebrates Barnes's spirit of adventure, her love for flying, and her willingness to break the rules and live life on her own terms. Featuring a talented cast of actors and a wealth of archival material, it's a must-see for anyone interested in aviation history, women's history, or just great storytelling.

The Legend of Pancho Barnes
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 4 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.6  (70)