USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Achieving your goals and taking over the world would be quite easy. If only it wasn’t raining today and this sofa wasn’t so comfy, and that one teacher ten years ago hadn’t told you that you would never do anything good with your life. Sounds depressing, right?

Luckily, there are hundreds of inspiring people all over the world whose stories show us that nothing is impossible – all you have to do is dream big and be brave. Just like courageous Jessica Cox, who wouldn’t let her disability stop her from soaring the skies as a licensed pilot.

Jessica Cox has proved to everyone around her that nothing is impossible once you set your mind to it

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Jessica’s mom had a completely normal pregnancy, so no one suspected anything unusual. “My mom had a normal pregnancy. And then on the day of my birth, it was an absolute shock to both of my parents when the doctor brought me over, saying: ‘Your baby doesn’t have any arms’.” To this day, doctors haven’t been able to understand why she didn’t develop arms, although it is suspected she was born with a rare condition called amelia.

Amelia prevents or interrupts the formation of the limbs at the very first weeks of pregnancy, somewhere between 24 or 36 days after fertilization. Sadly, most infants with amelia are stillborn or pass away shortly after birth. However, Jessica proved to be a fighter from day one on this Earth.

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Growing up, little Jessica was an active child, trying out new things constantly. She took tap dancing lessons and was a part of Girl Scouts. Unfortunately, she would often receive mean glares and even some nasty comments from other kids and even adults who should’ve known better. Jessica, like any other kid of her age, just wanted to be ‘normal’ like other children.

“I wanted so much to be normal, and I was told too often that I couldn’t do something or that I was handicapped,” she recalled in an interview. “I absolutely resented the word ‘handicap’.”

Jessica was born without arms, but that didn’t stop her from having an active childhood

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

She tried everything from tap dancing to taekwondo, even earning herself a triple black belt

Growing up, Jessica learned how to use prosthetic arms, but stopped at the age of 14. She preferred to use her feet for everything: from opening packages to playing piano and even driving a car. Have we mentioned she’s also managed to become a certified scuba diver and has earned herself a third-degree black belt in taekwondo? Her days must have 50 hours instead of 24! As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she also managed to become the first licensed pilot in the US to fly planes without arms.

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Surprisingly, being a pilot wasn’t something she had dreamed of; in fact, she was absolutely terrified of airplanes. That was until a pilot of a small plane invited her to join him in the cockpit. “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,” Jessica remembered her first flying experience. And ever since then, she was hooked and set her sight on a new goal.

Sadly, she would often hear nasty comments about her disability. “I wanted so much to be normal, and I was told too often that I couldn’t do something or that I was handicapped”

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

The young woman managed to get a driver’s license, learn how to play piano, become a certified scuba diving instructor – is there anything she cannot do?

After earning her degree in psychology from the University of Arizona, Jessica started taking all the necessary steps towards her dream. It wasn’t easy breezy, but she was ready to face any challenge thrown at her.

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

“I had numerous flight instructors and contributors to my training to figure this out. It was a three-year process to figure out through trial and error what would work.”

Eventually, she figured out what plane was the most comfortable for her to work with her feet: a single-engine aircraft know as an Ercoupe.

“There were a lot of questions. There were a lot of concerns. There were a lot of doubters on whether this was possible.”

Well, those doubters can now eat their words, because Jessica was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration back in October 2008. Now she flies the planes with one foot on the yoke and the other on the throttle – who said it was impossible?

At first, she was terrified of planes, but after that first flight, she was hooked – nothing compares to the feeling of being free up in the blue skies

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

After 3 years of training, she had become the first pilot with no arms to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Jessica hopes to inspire others to be brave and go after their dreams despite the curveballs life has thrown at them

USA Has Its First Licensed Pilot To Fly The Plane With Just Her Feet

Now, Jessica and her team of volunteers are working on testing various customized seats, flight controls and even doors that could potentially make aviation more accessible to people with disabilities. The components that pass the trials will be fitted in a RV-10, a four-seat, long-wing aircraft. Jessica intends to start flying this plane in 2025 and hopes to fly around the world in 2028, finishing with overflights of the International Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.

But most importantly, Jessica Cox hopes to inspire young children not to be afraid to dream big and prove to the world that they, just like Jess, can achieve anything.

“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,” Jessica pondered.

What do you think of Jessica’s story? Or perhaps you have similar inspiring tales to share?

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