First Flight with Jimmy Fordham

After 50 years in the air, it may be a fair question to ask Jimmy Fordham if he has spent more time on earth or in its skies.

“My dad was really the person that got me interested in flying. I was very thankful that he enjoyed aviation because he put a real love of it in my heart,” Fordham said.

A New Flight Path

Now a Slot Pilot for the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Fordham is still exploring the aviation world. After retiring from Northwest Airlines, he returned to the tight-knit air show circuit in his 1943 North American AT-6, which he purchased in 2011.

The plane is an authentic aircraft built in Dallas and was housed in Mexico until 1989, Fordham says. It is the same model that the United States Air Force used in the European theater of World War II before the fighter planes became more prominent.

Even though the plane is vintage, Fordham uses state-of-the-art technology in his cockpit to navigate the skies, whether he is flying in a straight line or in the middle of a barrel roll. He relies on modern software from Aspen Avionics to perform to the best of his abilities.

“The heart and soul of this thing are the two Aspen units. I’ve got a multifunction display and a primary flight display that are located right in the center of the aircraft,” Fordham explained. “The Aspens are fantastic. They allow us to file IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) if we have to, and to get from point A to point B if we had to get to an airshow.”

1943 Meets 2019

These upgrades are particularly important to Fordham, who says his situational awareness is critical during events and of course the units provide safety.

The Aspen devices help Fordham enjoy flying this particular plane and he does not take for granted that not everyone who has sat in the AT-6’s cockpit has had such peace of mind.

With comprehensive hazard awareness capabilities, traffic sensors and sunlight-readable display screens, Fordham is as equipped as any pilot, regardless of plane. This is something not afforded to the original AT-6 pilots, but something Fordham reflects on sometimes.

“I liked going to Europe because I actually got to see a lot of the places the World War II pilots flew, and you’d have to think, ‘Wow there were people back in World War II flying over this same area, and they weren’t enjoying it like I am. They were fighting for our freedom’,” he said.

Fordham may have seen everything there is to see from his cockpit, but even after a half-century, he may never have been happier in the skies than he is today.

To see how Aspen Avionics is helping to inspire the next generation of pilots, click here.

For the latest news, videos, and podcasts in the Transportation Industry, be sure to subscribe to our industry publication.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!

Twitter – @TransportMKSL
Facebook –
LinkedIn –

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!


Ntracts Inc.’s David Paschall and Stephanie Haywood contract lifecycle management
Contract Life Cycle Management is Coming Out on Top, as Healthcare Providers Increasingly Rely on the Tool
December 6, 2023

The healthcare industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the need to improve patient experiences, access, and outcomes. Amidst this shift, contract lifecycle management (CLM) is emerging as a critical tool for healthcare providers. With the increasing pressure on cost management and compliance, healthcare organizations are seeking solutions that streamline operations and enhance […]

Read More
Creativity in the Classroom Starts With Embracing Positive Tools and Attitudes
December 6, 2023

Fostering creativity in the classroom has become increasingly significant, specifically in a time where standardized testing often reigns supreme. Some experts in the education field maintain that while hard skills like math and reading are essential, the intangible qualities of kindness, empathy, and curiosity can have profound impacts on a student’s overall development.  In […]

Read More
endurance and technology
Endurance and Technology: Navigating the Challenges of the Baja Rally
December 6, 2023

The Baja Rally, an event synonymous with extremely rugged terrains, recently concluded its 2023 edition, marking another year of adrenaline-fueled adventure and a test of endurance and technology. This year’s rally, a grueling six-day ride through the Baja Peninsula, not only tested the limits of participants but also showcased the pivotal role of advanced […]

Read More