Life without limits: Meet Jessica Cox, the world’s first pilot without arms

Written by Belle Beth Cooper on January 16, 2013

Being born without arms was never enough to hold back Jessica Cox, who is the first person without arms to ever earn a pilot’s license.

Since she was a child, Jessica broke boundaries and worked hard to enjoy hobbies and activities like tap dancing, playing piano, scuba diving and surfing. As an adult, Jessica drives with an unrestricted license and can type 25 words-per-minute.

She also took up martial arts as a child, earning her first black belt in Taekwondo when she was 14. She later joined the American Taekwondo Association and became the first person without arms to earn a black belt in the ATA.

As if that list isn’t impressive enough, Jessica went on to take up flying as well. Though she was scared of flying as a child, she was hooked after just one flight in a single-engine plane. After three years of training she received her pilot’s license and now flies a modified Ercoupe – a plane without rudder pedals.

In the video below, Jessica explains how she uses her feet to control the plane, and how her instructor helped modify the plane so she could fly it.

Jessica now tours as a motivational speaker, but she also wants to be a light-sport flight instructor to “share this joy with others.” I don’t know about you, but I’ll certainly think twice before saying I can’t do something again!


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About the Author

Belle Beth Cooper

Belle is a co-founder of Melbourne startup Hello Code, creators of Exist—a personal analytics platform that helps you find work/life balance.

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