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Aviation history describes a unique aviatrix. Pancho Barnes perhaps found her love of aviation from her grandfather. Professor T. S. C. Lowe helped the Union Army win the Civil War. He also built Pasadena’s Mt. Lowe Railway to the Stars.
Pancho swaggered like a buccaneer on the airport. She smoked cigars and swore like a sailor. Nonetheless, the aviation community saw her as an excellent pilot. Her friends described her as spontaneous and fun. In 1930, she set the women’s speed record in her Travel Air Mystery Ship. She also set long-distance speed records.
In 1934, Pancho bought a ranch near Lancaster, California. Some ten years later she established the Happy Bottom Riding Club. Edwards Air Force test pilots designated her club as their unofficial debriefing room. Pancho referred to herself as the ‘Unofficial Mother of the Supersonic Age’.
Pancho paraded through life – sometimes brazenly, rarely anonymously – but never without zest. As aviatrix Louise Thaden said, “I feel she didn’t miss a lick of living and lived as she wished.” And Pancho lived by this motto, “Live dangerously. Anybody that isn’t, ought to be dead.”
As in all Little Buttes aviation history books, there are loads of images to highlight the factual text. Paperback, 292 pages.