Waldo Waterman and Pancho Barnes

Waldo Waterman (1894 – 1976), was an aviation pioneer, inventor, and son of a California governor.  In 1929, at age 35, Waldo became general manager of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport (now known as Van Nuys Airport) where Pancho Barnes (aka: Florence Lowe Barnes) and her cousin, Dean Banks, kept their airplanes. Pancho Barnes and Waldo Watermen had been friends… [Read More]

James ‘Jimmy’ Stewart meets Pancho Barnes, March 1936

In early 1936 James ‘Jimmy’ Stewart was a young rising star of the silver screen and had landed his first starring role in the MGM film “Speed.”  In the movie, Stewart plays a gifted mechanic and race car driver who struggles to prove that his newly developed carburetor provides the best performance by entering cars in the Indy 500 and… [Read More]

Pancho Barnes and the Birth of an US Air Force Test Pilot School Tradition

The custom of commemorating a US Air Force pilot trainee’s inaugural solo flight with a water dunking traces its roots back to Pancho Barnes’ Happy Bottom Riding Club in the early 1940s. The story goes that one sunny afternoon, a group of experienced pilots was celebrating the successful completion of a young pilot’s first solo flight at the Happy Bottom… [Read More]

Pancho Barnes Celebrates Film Star Ramon Novarro’s 31st Birthday at MGM

Once Upon a time in the golden age of Hollywood, the daring and unconventional aviatrix Pancho Barnes received a special invitation from her close friend, the dashing and talented actor Ramon Navarro. Ramon Navarro was a world-famous leading man and one of the top box office stars of the 1920s and early 1930s. It was February 6, 1930, and the… [Read More]

A Fishing Expedition With George Hurrell

Pancho Barnes and George Hurrell were both eager for an adventure in the summer of 1928, and decided to embark on a three day fishing trip to Baja Mexico together. Pancho was an experienced fisherman, and loved nothing more than spending her days on the water, casting her line and reeling in the biggest catch. As they set off on their… [Read More]

Wiley Post Unexpectedly Drops In To Visit Pancho at Rancho Oro Verde

In early January 1935, Pancho Barnes and her young son, Billy Barnes, moved to Rancho Oro Verde (later known as The Happy Bottom Riding Club), where they planned to live full time. On February 22nd of that same year, Wiley Post, who was world-famous for being the first pilot to fly solo around the world, “belly” landed his Lockheed Vega, the… [Read More]

Pancho Barnes and early television episodes of COWBOY SLIM

In addition to her many accomplishments, Pancho Barnes was an early supporter and pioneer in television. In late 1947 Pancho Barnes decided to help fund an early television series called COWBOY SLIM. The series was filmed at her 360-acre ‘Rancho Oro Verde’ property and ‘Happy Bottom Riding Club.’ The Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive contains the only two known surviving… [Read More]

Happy Birthday General Chuck Yeager

We salute General Chuck Yeager (February 13, 1923 – December 7, 2020), a true American hero, on what would have been his 100th birthday. Among his many achievements, on October 14, 1947, while piloting the experimental Bell X-1, General Yeager became the first to fly faster than the speed of sound. That evening Yeager and his X-1 team celebrated this… [Read More]


The following interview is excerpted from the forthcoming book VOICES FROM THE HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB. Dr. Barney Oldfield was an aircraft design engineer and was head of the flight research instrumentation group for Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, New York. He was a charter member of Pancho’s Happy Bottom Riding Club. His membership card is dated 1944. My name is… [Read More]

Interview with BLACKIE GOLD

The following interview was conducted in 2006 by the Pancho Barnes Trust Estate Archive with early hot rod Dry Lake racer Hyman “Blackie” Gold.  Blackie became a friend of Pancho Barnes about 2 years after she relocated from Pasadena to Muroc on her Rancho Oro Verde. This interview features an excerpt from the coming book, VOICES FROM THE HAPPY BOTTOM… [Read More]