EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

[ NEWS ]

  Latest News
  Awards / Group Photos
  Media Room
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedCox: ‘Never say can’t’
By Barbara A. Schmitz, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo © Brenda Hagood Lea / Tailwind Photography
Jessica Cox demonstrates that learning to buckle herself into the cockpit’s seatbelt is similar to learning to tie your shoes. She was the keynote speaker Monday night at Women Soar You Soar.

July 29, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - Born without arms, Jessica Cox said she doesn’t have “can’t” in her vocabulary.

“Instead I say I haven’t figured out yet how to do that.”

With that degree of determination Cox became the first person without arms to earn her pilot’s certificate back in October 2008.

But it wasn’t easy.

Cox, faced with the first challenge of flight training, was figuring out how to buckle herself into the four-point seatbelt using her feet.

“I sat and thought about similar challenges I had faced in the past and realized it was like learning how to tie shoe laces.”

Cox said she eventually tried loosely buckling the seatbelt, then climbing on top of the seat and sliding in.

Next, she tightened the belt.

That first time, Cox said, she needed about 45 minutes to buckle herself into the airplane. Each subsequent time, however, it went a little faster.

Now, she can get buckled in about 5 minutes. Click.

“Every challenge needs to be broken up and then I can figure out how to solve it,” she said. “With practice, it becomes easier and easier.”

There aren’t many things Cox, a motivational speaker, hasn’t figured out. Using her feet, she combs her hair, eats, plays piano, types 30 words per minute, text messages, and much more.

“It’s all I’ve ever known,” said Cox, who was a keynote speaker at Women Soar You Soar Monday night. “If I woke up with arms tomorrow, I wouldn’t know what to do with them.”

Still, at times, Cox said she almost gave up her dream of flying.

She tried different planes and different instructors—some of whom didn’t always believe in her.

One said it wasn’t safe for her to solo.

“I knew only I could make it happen.

“Sometimes in life, things are handed— or in my case footed—to you,” she said. “But other times you have to pull yourself up and make it happen.”

With renewed dedication and focus, Cox said she went on to solo and earn her sport pilot certificate.

She flew into AirVenture earlier this week, part of a fleet of eight Ercoupes.

“It was pretty awesome flying here,” she said.

And while she has earned her sport pilot ticket, she said, she plans to continue earning more ratings, including instructing.

“I would really like to teach,” she said. Cox says despite being born without arms, she has never seen herself as being incomplete. While high school was the most difficult, she said she learned to continually remind herself to celebrate her uniqueness.

“I had to accept Jessica for who Jessica was,” she said.

“The only limitations are the ones you create,” she explained. “If you’re told you can’t do something, you can. You just need to believe it.”

So what’s the next thing she believes she can do?

Now that she’s adept at the three-dimensional world of the sky, she wants to move into the underwater three-dimensional world.

“As soon as I leave Oshkosh, I’m going to try and become SCUBA certified,” she said.

For more information on Cox, go to her website, www.rightfooted.com. To view her speaking schedule at AirVenture, go to www.airventure.org/schedule or check the EAA AirVenture Today newspaper.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
Copyright © 2014 EAA, Inc.
All content, logos, pictures, and videos are the property of the EAA, Inc.
EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902
If you have any comments or questions contact webmaster@eaa.org.
Disclaimer/Privacy Policy