Woman Born Without Arms Defies Odds, Becomes First Armless Pilot


People never cease to amaze me. Just when I start to believe I’ve seen it all, stories of extraordinary human beings throw me for a loop.

Take the story of Jessica Cox, a woman born without arms who hasn’t let anything stand in her way.

While her rare birth defect originally prompted Jessica to use prosthetic arms, she decided to leave them behind at the age of 14.

And that decision, in her own words, “changed my life.”

“It made me realize that I was trying to hide my difference and to just make my life average,” she said.

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Not willing to be hindered by her disability, Jessica learned how to use her feet to eat, drive, swim, play the piano, and even became the first armless person to earn a black belt from American Taekwondo Association. And perhaps most amazingly, she learned to fly a plane.

Jessica attributes her incredible determination to her mother, who taught her not to give up when faced with a challenge.

“My mom exposed me to every activity and with any achievement, when I set my goal and was able to achieve that, there was this whole new level of confidence,” she said. “I started to stretch myself out.”

While becoming a pilot wasn’t always on her mind, a trip with a fighter pilot in a single engine airplane changed everything for Jessica.

“Being up in the air put me on edge, but that quickly went away,” she explained. “It still keeps me on edge, which I like.”

After plenty of training, Jessica earned her Light Sport Pilot Certificate in 2008. She also holds a Guinness World Record as the “First Armless Person in the World Ever to Have Obtained a Pilot’s License.”

“Jessica holds a Sport Pilot certificate, which qualifies her to fly a light-sport aircraft to altitudes of 10,000 feet,” her record reads. “Flying an Ercoupe, a plane manufactured in the mid-1940s compatible with her abilities, Jessica mans the controls with one foot and delicately guides the steering column with the other.”

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But her incredible story doesn’t end there. Jessica is also an inspirational speaker who travels the globe with her husband, Patrick, and uses her own life story to inspire others with disabilities.

“I feel like my message is all the more important when I find out the stigmas that people with disabilities experience,” she said.

“I do what I do because I love to do it,” she said “and I don’t give up.”

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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