Lights, camera, action! 90 Years of Female Movie Stunt Pilots.
Florence “Pancho” Lowe Barnes, first woman to work as a movie stunt pilot, 1929
Florence “Pancho” Lowe Barnes (1901 – 1975) was born in an affluent Southern California family. Her grand-father, Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, was a pioneer of American aviation who founded nation’s first military air unit. He took her to her first airshow when she was only 10.
In 1928, she decided to learn to fly. She quickly got involved in airshows and racing. In 1929, she moved to Hollywood to work as a movie stunt pilot. She flew in several air-adventure movies of the 1930s, including Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels (1930). In 1931, she founded the Associated Motion Picture Pilots, the world’s first union of film industry stunt fliers.
In the late 30’s, she developed the Happy Bottom Riding Club on her property in the Mojave Desert near Edwards Air Force base. The club was a popular hangout for the “Right Stuff” test pilots and the Hollywood elite. After the club burned down in the mid 50s, she moved north of the Edwards Air Force base and remained a fixture at the base. The officers’ mess was renamed Pancho Barnes Room.
“Too many women are not aware of women’s long and rich history of contributions to the industry,” says Mireille Goyer, iWOAW’s Founder and President. “By selecting a theme based on women’s notable breakthroughs every year, we are aiming to restore women’s roots and rebuild their aviation identity.”
- 2010 – 100 years of licensed female pilots (world’s first female pilot license – Raymonde de Laroche, France)
- 2011 – 100 years of female air racers (world’s first woman to enter an air race – Hélène Dutrieu, Belgium
- 2012 – 100 years of female seaplane pilots (world’s first seaplane pilot – Hélène Dutrieu, Belgium)
- 2013 – 50 years of women in space (world’s first female astronaut – Valentina Tereshkova, Russia)
- 2014 – 100 years of female aerobatic pilots (world’s first female aerobatic pilot – Lydia Zvereva, Russia)
- 2015 – 100 years of female pilots in combat (world’s first woman to fly in combat – Marie Marvingt, France)
- 2016 – 60 years of female bush pilots (world’s first female bush pilot – Ada Rogato, Brazil)
- 2017 – 80 years of female helicopter pilots (world’s first female helicopter pilot – Hanna Reitsch, Germany)
- 2018 – 65 years of supersonic women (world’s first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound – Jacqueline Cochran, USA)