How Jessica Cox Made Things Possible Without Having Arms

Jessica Cox

She turns difficulties into accomplishments. Recently recognized in 2014 Guinness Book Of World Records as the first woman to fly an airplane with her feet, one of the 10 Best Pilots of Plane & Pilot Magazine, among the 100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the United States by the Filipino Women’s Network, a recipient of various awards including Outstanding Filipino Award, the Filipino American Journal Award of Excellence, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Pilot’s Choice Award and Susan G. Komen Inspiration Award, the first licensed pilot without arms, a two-time Taekwondo black belt, a scuba diver, a surfer, a motivational speaker and a wife; she is Jessica Cox.

I’ve got the chance to listen to the woman as she discussed how she beat all odds.


Born in Sierra Vista, Arizona on February 2, 1983, Jessica has a brother, Jason, and a younger sister, Jackie, who have both arms. None of the prenatal test her mom took implies of her deficiency.

Jessica showed eagerness at an early age. She sprawled with her bottom when she was 5 months old and was able to walk on the 16th month. At the age of 3, she can eat by herself. Since then, they believed that the child has full potential to do what ordinary people do.

She enrolled in Taekwondo lessons at the age of 10 and got her first black belt title in the International Taekwondo Federation 4 years later. Growing up, she learned how to apply her make-up and put her contact lenses using her feet. She can also play piano, surf and scuba dive. Cox took up a degree in Psychology at the University of Arizona and acquired another black belt at the American Taekwondo Association.


Jessica talked about how she managed to do tasks on her own, her experiences of living independently and even having her driver’s license on her foot. “It’s important to never give up. Persistence, perseverance, never giving up. Think about the last time you said, ‘I can’t.’ If you say you can’t, you can’t. If you say you can or will try, there’s a lot more room for possibility.” She pointed out.

Her greatest fear was flying an airplane but she had overcome it. She mastered to fly an Ercoupe, a low-wing plane that comes with no pedal which made it possible for her to use her foot as a hand; one on the throttle and the other on the yoke. It took her three years to study instead of three months under the supervision of three flying instructors. “Never use the word, ‘I can’t.’ Instead say, ‘I’ll try,’ and, ‘I’ll work on it,’ and there’s a lot more room for possibility.” The pilot said.


Admitting she’s been bullied before, Jessica remarked, “One of the things I’ve learned is that I will never be able to control the way everyone in the world reacts on me. But I can control the way I react to them. And if I can move my head up high, I can be confident. Then people are less likely to make fun of me. And if they do make fun of me, and I’m confident in myself, no matter what they say, it will bounce right off.”

Without arms, Jessica didn’t stop exploring the world with all the ways she could probably think of. She remembered one quote from a book, saying, “When you come to the end of the rope, tie the knot and hang on. Never give up.”