The Legend of Pancho Barnes
and the Happy Bottom Riding Club
at The Electric Theater in St. George.
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.