Docutah screens film about legendary female stunt pilot Florence ‘Pancho’ Barnes

Move stills from the documentary film "The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club," locations and dates not specified | Images courtesy of Docutah International Documentary Film Festival, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Telling the story of one of the most important women in 20th century aviation, Dixie State University Docutah International Documentary Film Festival will present the unique documentary “The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club” April 27 at 7 p.m. at The Electric Theater in St. George.

A charismatic figure featured in Tom Wolfe’s book “The Right Stuff,” Florence “Pancho” Barnes was a tough and fearless aviatrix and rival of Amelia Earhart’s. Barnes made a name for herself as Hollywood’s first female stunt pilot.

Just before World War II, Barnes 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, Barnes herself has become something of a legend, a fascinating yet enigmatic icon whose swagger is often celebrated but whose story has been largely unknown.

Featuring interviews with test pilots Bob Cardenas, Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager; astronaut Buzz Aldrin; and biographers Barbara Schultz and Lauren Kessler, the film is narrated by Tom Skerritt with Kathy Bates as the voice of Pancho Barnes.

The event will be hosted by the film’s producer and writer, Nick Sparks.

Advanced tickets reservations are required and can be made online. Tickets are $10 and are payable by cash only at the door.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •

Event details

  • What: Docutah screening of “The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club.”
  • When: Friday, April 27, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle, St. George.
  • Cost: $10 cash only at the door.
  • Reserve tickets: Advance ticket reservations are required and can be made online.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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