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Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...

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If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

B Is For Pancho Barnes

We all know Amelia Earhart, queen of the skies, but one of the most badass women of the air was Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes. She came from aviation royalty, her grandfather was Thaddeus Lowe, who established the Union Army Balloon Corps during the American Civil War. Brash and confident, Barnes soloed her first plane after just six hours in the air. After that, it was on. Pancho ran a barnstorming show and competed in air races. She won the 1930 Women's Air Derby and broke the air speed record set by Earhart.

Pancho was wild and crazy, loved to smoke, drink and had her own way of looking at the world. In 1931 she moved to Hollywood where she worked as a stunt pilot on such films as Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels. She  formed the Associated Motion Picture Pilots, a union of stunt pilots who promoted flying safety and a standardized pay scale for aerial work.

In 1935 she left Hollywood and moved out to 180 acres in the Mojave desert. Here she established the first test pilots union and created the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a dude ranch/hang out for pilots. Her close friends and members of the club included some of the giants of aviation history like General Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin. Because her land was in such close proximity to Edwards Air Force Base, Pancho was also known as the "Mother of Edwards AFB."

What a fascinating woman, huh?

Fun Factoid

Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded in 1921 for her work, The Age of Innocence.

Thanks for stopping by today. To visit the other amazing blogs in the A to Z, click here.


47 comments:

  1. Those are some achievements! I like the sound of her grandfather's Balloon Corps though - war balloons sound insane!


    Jamie Gibbs
    Fellow A-Z Buddy
    Mithril Wisdom

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    1. War balloons do sound wild, don't they? I can only imagine what it must have been like to soar over a battlefield in a hot air balloon. Scary!

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  2. Sounds like she led an amazing life! Imagine being a female stunt pilot in 1931! Bravo on your "B" post Melissa! Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie! Pancho was quite the woman. I love the part about her being a stunt pilot, too. Imagine what she saw and who she worked with. :)

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  3. Nothing to make you feel more empowered than a bad ass chick like this.

    A to Z Challenge is off to a flying start :-)

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    1. I agree! Pancho is definitely one badass sister. ;)

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  4. You come up with some interesting women, Mel! I never heard of Pancho Barnes before today. She was one adventurous woman.
    http://gail-baugniet.blogspot.com Theme: A World of Crime

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    1. Thank, Gail. :) I first heard about Pancho a couple of years ago when I was researching a story. She blew me away.

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  5. When I was a young girl I admired Pancho a great deal. I was overly fascinated with pilots, astronauts, etc. And any woman who did those things was like discovering gold to me. She was portrayed in the movie The Right Stuff (1983). I grew up in So Cal and attended the very first space shuttle landing (1981) at Edwards AFB. And though I was there and amazed by the shuttle landing, there was a little part of me that felt like I was connecting with a kick ass woman.

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    1. Wow, Andi!! How amazing that you got to attend the first shuttle landing. I remember The Right Stuff. It's been a long time since I've seen it so now I'm going to have to check it out again.

      I didn't get to know Pancho until recently, but what a woman to grow up admiring. She is definitely a kick ass heroine for women and girls.

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  6. She accomplished a lot in her lifetime! Bet no one messed with her, either.

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    1. Hey Alex! Pancho led an extraordinary life and I can just imagine what she would have done if someone tried to mess with her. ;)

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  7. Wow - she sounds truly amazing! What a life! :)

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    1. Pancho was truly incredible. I can only imagine daring all that she did at a time where women were still struggling with being second-class citizens.

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  8. People like that amaze me. She just made her way and did what she wanted in life. Good for her.

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  9. such a great name, Pancho! I want that name :)
    I don't find people who drink and smoke amusing nor great, but in other respects she seems like a positive looney :)

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  10. Well I hadn't heard of her. What a great name. I wonder why we all know Amelia and not Pancho!

    Denise

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  11. i Melissa,nice to 'finally' meet you. (I see you all the time at George's space). Fun and interesting post.

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  12. she was and still is the shizzle, yes i said shizzle!
    thank you for sharing!

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  13. oooh! very interesting. i think she needs a story told from her pov... challenge extended to you, miss mel! :D

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  14. I've never heard of her before today but she sounds awesome. I agree with Vic... she needs a story told from her POV.

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  15. Great post. I wish I had the guts to be a badass woman. Though ask my boys -- maybe I am. Thanks for visiting my A post. B is up!

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  16. Fascinating. She sounds like a very interesting woman and character.

    Thanks for sharing. I look forward to more A to Z goodness!

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  17. Wow. Awesome.
    Really great stuff.
    Heather

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  18. Love it! That picture is fantastic!

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  19. This is great. I'd never heard of her.

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  20. She sounds like the kind of person I'd love to hang out with. What an interesting woman. Great post and happy A-Z blogging!

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  21. well she's a new one on me - sounds a great girl - happy blogginh

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  22. Another great personality I'm glad to 'meet' - I'll be bumping your theme on my Facebook page tomorrow.

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  23. Loved this! Always happy to learn about strong women in history. And Pancho seemed like a toughie. great A-Z post!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  24. I love reading about women like this. Because of people like her, we can do what we want.

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  25. Damn! I've never heard of Pancho Barnes before. Why aren't kids learning about her in school??? Geez. What an amazing woman.

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  26. Amazing woman. I'm assuming I never heard of her because she worked behind the scenes. The 30s were a wild time alright.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins
    Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins
    @mauricem1972

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  27. I haven't heard of her before, which is sad. Sounds like an energetic and interesting lady.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  28. Damn, Pancho, you're awesome! Another great lady for a great list! Keep up the badass work!

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  29. I've never heard of her before so I'm glad I stopped by your blog! What a fascinating woman... and that picture has so much attitude! I love it! :)

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    1. Same here! She began the pilots union? Way cool, Melissa.

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  30. Oh, I love that picture - I want to hang out with that woman - Fun blog theme. will be back for sure!

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  31. First time I've heard about Pancho. Great post.

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  32. I continue to learn so many new things from this marvellous blog of yours. It's crazy! Another great post, hon. Looking forward to the next one.

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  33. Yes, fascinating, and I'd never heard of her either. Thanks for shining the light on another shining star.

    xoRobyn

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  34. I am loving this theme! Pancho sounds like a woman I would have loved to have a drink with.

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  35. Melissa - that was more than fun that was AWESOME. You are really giving us some great insights to some outstanding people.

    Cheers, Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

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  36. Oh, there's a woman to hang with right there - if you could keep up! Smashing post, MB! Love it!

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  37. I'll be honest, I'd never heard of her before this post. Thank you.

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  38. Never heard of Pancho before, but she sure was a cool and badass woman :)

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