A woman from Arizona may not have arms, but she has the wings to fly. This is the most unbelievable but true story of Jessica Cox, born without arms, who dared to dream about flying solo. She defied all odds to become America’s first licensed pilot without arms, to fly a plane using her feet. Born with a rare defect did not deter her from pursuing anything she wanted to do, including – flying a plane, playing the piano, driving a car, scuba diving, or getting a black belt in taekwondo. From daily life to the dynamics of flight, she has proved, being differently able does not mean being unable to achieve your goals. Today, Jessica Cox is a motivational speaker and life coach.
Jessica Cox – Not so different
Jessica Cox was born on February 2, 1983, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. While initially her mother Inez had a tough time accepting the truth, both parents quickly decided to integrate Jessica into the real world. In 1988, they enrolled her in a public school. The only difference between her and other children was that Jessica had prosthetic arms. Though she did use them to carry things around, she never really connected with them and preferred to use her feet to do her daily chores.
Jessica says, “Since I was born without arms, I became fascinated by the limitless ways the human body can adjust to a variety of circumstances. I utilized dormant physical traits to adapt and use my feet the way people use their hands. As I learned to conquer physical barriers, I developed mental skills that allowed me to go on to achieve the seemingly impossible in my own, unique way.”
A Brave Change
After 11 years of wearing prosthetic arms, Jessica gave them up to embrace her natural self. By now, she could do most of her work independently using her feet. From typing on a keyboard to removing her contact lenses, this young girl would use her feet like any ordinary person would use their hands. She continued to pursue her education, graduating in 2005 in Psychology and Communications from the University of Arizona.
While still studying in college, Jessica Cox decided to pursue flight lessons to overcome her greatest fear: flying. For the first time in 2004, she flew in a single-engine airplane via Wright Flight. It inspired her to learn to fly. She received flight training from Parrish Traweek. After three years of training, on October 10, 2008, she was qualified to fly a light-sport aircraft to altitudes of 10,000 feet. She became a certified pilot setting a record in the Guinness Book as the first woman to fly an airplane with her feet
In 2019, Cox received a 1946 Ercoupe 415-C (Serial number #3153) with tail number N26R. In July of 2020, she used the airplane to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by taking retired Senator Tom Harkin on a flight near Washington, DC.
Taekwondo to Take My Hand
At the age of 10, Cox began training in taekwondo at school. By the time she was 14 years, she had earned her first black belt. But since the University of Arizona Cox offered Taekwondo on the campus, she decided to restart practicing the sport. Jessica’s hobby of Taekwondo led her to earn her second and third-degree black belts and to meet her husband, Patrick Chamberlain, a Taekwondo instructor. They married on May 12, 2012. The couple now lives in Tucson in the US state of Arizona. Together, they continue to train and win more laurels. In 2014, Cox became the Taekwondo Arizona State Champion.
Jessica realized her words, optimism, and experience, were becoming a source of inspiration to many like her. She thus decided to become a motivational speaker to help people overcome their perceived limitations. She codified her message into Possible Thinking and the Achieve Model. Jessica Cox has inspired people in more than 26 countries.
In 2015, Jessica Cox published an autobiographical self-help book – Disarm Your Limits.