She does what every pilot does, the difference is she does it all with her two feet. Jessica Cox is an armless pilot, who learned to fly the plane with her feet and is an inspiration to all the women in aviation out there. It's natural for pilot Jessica Cox to place her right foot on the yoke and her left foot on the throttle right before she's cleared for takeoff.
"I'm replacing what other pilots would be doing with their hands and substituting that by doing it with my feet," Cox said. Hailing from Arizona, Jessica was born without her arms due to a rare birth defect. However, that did not stop her from achieving her dreams.
"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.' "
Despite the deficiency, Jessica never felt incomplete. She says she never felt limited growing up. She credits her family for her courage and strength. "They helped me to really be encouraged to go out there and try it out, to figure things out and want to be independent."
Telling about the story how she became a pilot, she revealed, "Every time I went up on commercial flights as a kid, I would just pray to God that I would be taken care of. But one flight in a small plane changed things. "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."
Then, after her graduation, she underwent rigorous training for three years, however, she needed the right-plane, one 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."
Since then, the 36-year-old never looked back, and now, Cox is not only a pilot but a certified scuba diver and a third-degree black belt in taekwondo, and she has traveled to more than 20 countries as a motivational speaker.