Please thank Ann Japenga for her good story on Pancho Barnes. She certainly was a wonderful person, though much misunderstood. I knew Pancho well, and her Happy Bottom Riding Club, a.k.a. Rancho Oro Verde, was a prime source of secret information on events at nearby Edwards AFB, formerly Muroc AFB.
When Chuck Yeager went through the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 on Oct. 14, 1947, all the Los Angeles aviation writers knew it, though the brass wanted it kept secret. But Scholer Bangs of Aviation Week busted the story ahead of release date, much to Pancho's disgust.
A few corrections are in order in Japenga's piece:
Pancho's romance in Hollywood was not with Ramon Novarro, though she did work with him in the movie "The Flying Fleet" at North Island with the stunt team Three Sea Hawks. They were good friends, but her big crush was on Duncan Renaldo, a film star. At Renaldo's death, Pancho led a squadron of women pilots on a cross-country flight, scattering flowers over the land.
Her grandfather, Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe, was more than just a "balloonist" in the Civil War. He organized the Aeronautic Corps for the Union Army, at the request of President Lincoln, and was hailed as "the most shot-at man in the Civil War." (Professor Lowe also was the first Union Army prisoner of the South, when he landed his balloon at Pea Ridge, N.C. He was checking upper winds for a proposed transatlantic balloon crossing, when he encountered adverse winds.)