Apart from being a pilot, Cox is also a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, and a certified scuba driver.
While most of us struggle to figure out what to do with our lives, pilot Jessica Cox has been breaking the internet with her courageous story for flying a plane using only her feet. "I'm replacing what other pilots would be doing with their hands and substituting that by doing it with my feet," Cox told CNN. This Arizona-born pilot was born without arms. It was a mystery even for the doctors who couldn't explain the reason behind her undeveloped arms.
Explaining how her mother had a normal pregnancy, Cox said, "My mom had a normal pregnancy. And then on the day of my birth, it was an absolute shock to both of my parents, especially my mom, who was devastated when the doctor brought me over saying, 'your baby doesn't have any arms.'" However, Cox explains how her family never made her feel like she had a disability. "They helped me to really be encouraged to go out there and try it out, to figure things out and want to be independent," she said.
Despite her physical limitation, Cox was an active participant in extracurricular activities at her public school. "From tap dance lessons to taekwondo classes to swim lessons to modeling to Girl Scouts, every day after school I had some activity to do," she listed. However, she hated the fact that people doubted her for not being able to do something. "I wanted so much to be normal, and I was told too often that I couldn't do something or that I was handicapped. ... I absolutely resented the word 'handicap.'"
So, what exactly encouraged Cox to become a pilot? The pilot shares a brief experience about the times she flew commercial. She explained, "Every time I went up on commercial flights as a kid, I would just pray to God that I would be taken care of." It was a flight on a small plane that changed everything. "The pilot brought me to the front of the plane. The plane has dual controls. ... He took his hands off of the control and let me do the flying. Even if something is scary to you, it's important that we face it," she recalled.
Cox graduated from the University of Arizona in 2005 and started to train as a pilot. Although the training was no piece of cake, she kept at it and didn't lose hope. Now, all she needed was a trainer who would have the patience and dedication to teach her. "I had numerous flight instructors and contributors to my training to figure this out," she confessed. "So, it was a three-year process to figure out through trial and error what would work."
Due to her missing limbs, she knew that she couldn't fly just any plane in her sight, thus she started seeking an aircraft that was compatible with her abilities. "I pulled up this picture of an airplane, and I put it on the backdrop of my computer, and I just remember looking at that airplane. It was the airplane that I eventually become certified in. But pulling up that picture during those moments of doubt, and just envisioning flying an airplane, even though it wasn't reality at the moment, it made the reality happen," she said.
Just three years later since graduating college, Cox became a Federal Aviation Administration Certified pilot to fly Ercoupe in 2008. There were several doubters who weren't sure if she could indeed fly this light sport aircraft. "There were a lot of questions. There were a lot of concerns. There were a lot of doubters on whether this was possible," she said. Moreover, Cox also had two prosthetic arms which she learned how to use but wasn't convinced about it. "I never made that connection since, like, the beginning. I just thought that my feet were better," she added.
Apart from being a pilot, Cox is also a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, and a certified scuba driver. She's also a motivational speaker who has already traveled more than 20 countries. Cox then explained how she has braced this life, "I often think about if I could go back and change my life so that I was born with arms -- first of all, my life would be completely different, and one of the things that I see is so powerful is because I live my life the way I do, it has this tremendous impact on other people. I've had role models and leaders. And because I've had that, now it's my responsibility to be the same for the next generation."