Jessica Cox readies for take off. Butterflies buzz in her stomach as she gives the yoke a gentle nudge. With her eyes fixed on the runway, she thrusts into the air at 100 kilometres an hour. But this is no ordinary ascent – Cox has just made history. “I’m the first woman without arms to fly an airplane,” she says. Using her feet to navigate through life, Cox is inspiring people with disabilities to reach new heights.
Despite being born with a rare birth defect, Cox was enrolled in a public school and quickly gained her independence. “Knowing this world wasn’t built for me makes it an extra challenge,” she says. “But it also gives me more drive to make the world more accommodating and inclusive for people with disabilities.” Cox went on to graduate from the University of Arizona with a degree in Psychology and Communication, and her accomplishments only skyrocketed from there.
While Cox surpassed expectations, there was one fear that she was determined to overcome: flying. After three years of training, she soared through the sky controlling the plane with just her feet. In 2008, Cox landed in the history books as the world’s first licenced armless pilot. “I fly planes to prove that anyone is capable of anything,” she says.
Today, Cox travels the globe as a motivational speaker, and has her own documentary, Right Footed. She even made headlines again when she became the first armless black-belt in the American Taekwondo Association. Sharing her personal trials and triumphs, Cox is encouraging others to overcome their own obstacles. Guided by sheer determination and spirit, she proves that the sky is not the limit – it’s only the beginning.